US vs. Canada World Under-18 Championship Gold Medal Game Preview

ESPOO, Finland – USA vs. Canada. No matter the level, no matter the stage, if ice is involved, it doesn’t get better than that.

The 2024 IIHF Men’s Under-18 World Championship will see the North American rivals meet in Finland on Sunday evening in a highly anticipated battle for the gold medal. Team USA is looking for its second straight gold at the tournament, while Canada is looking for its first U18 title since 2021, when minors Connor Bedard and Shane Wright led them to victory.

How to watch the U18 Men’s World Championship gold medal match

The game will air in the United States on NHL Network, while TSN will host the event in Canada. The game will also be streamed in Canada via the TSN Sports app.

The U.S. meets Canada on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET.

What you need to know about USA vs Canada at U18 Worlds

Both teams enter the final with perfect records, are undefeated in six games and, above all, destroy the competition. In what was a bit of a down year for the field, the US and Canada rose above the competition, with several players from each team posting historic numbers for the tournament.

Both teams scored more than 40 goals during the event, while no other team in the tournament had scored more than 21 goals. The Americans have a goal difference of plus-35, while Canada is at plus-29. The tournament’s top 10 scoring leaders are American or Canadian.

On paper, by eye test, by any observable metric, these were the best two teams and not particularly close to the rest.

The US secured an easy 7-2 victory over Slovakia in the first semi-final on Saturday, while Canada stormed to a 5-1 lead over Sweden before winning 5-4 in an increasingly exciting semi-final. on.

The only common opponents between these two teams in this tournament were Latvia and Switzerland. The US defeated Latvia 7-1 and Switzerland 4-0. Canada defeated Switzerland 8-1 and Latvia 4-0.

Who are the players to watch at the U18 World Championships for the gold medal?

Team USA players to watch

James Hagens, C, 2025 NHL draft eligible

With 22 points in the tournament so far, Hagens already owns the singles record for the U18 World Cup, having passed Nikita Kucherov’s previous record of 21 on Saturday. He never scored fewer than three points in any game and showed no signs of slowing down. Whether scoring goals or setting up plays, Hagens is always dangerous with the puck on his stick, which shows why many believe he is the top prospect for the 2025 NHL Draft.

Cole Eiserman, LW, 2024 NHL Draft eligible

Eiserman is now tied with Cole Caufield with 126 career goals as a member of the US National Team Development Program and is a true sniper. He scored twice in the semi-final win over Slovakia after a few quiet games. He has often raised his level on the bigger stages and this will be his biggest stage yet.

Cole Hutson, D, 2024 NHL Draft eligible

Hutson is now the all-time leader among defenders in career scoring at this tournament and has achieved double figures at the U18 World Cup for several years. He ranks top among defensemen this year with 10 points. The nearest blueliner has six.

EJ Emery, D, 2024 NHL Draft eligible

When it comes to the toughest matchups, EJ Emery gets plenty of ice. We’ll probably see him play against Gavin McKenna and Porter Martone a lot. Emery has increased his draft stock with quality defense and a simple game that has been very difficult for the opposition to break.

Trevor Connelly, LW, 2024 NHL Draft eligible

If the US wants to win the game, depth of scoring will be crucial, and it’s not often that you have a first-round caliber talent in the third row in a tournament like this. That’s what the US has, though, and why they enlisted the services of Connelly of the Tri-City Storm for this tournament. Connelly has 10 points for the U18s and has had some dazzling moments thanks to his speed and skill.

Team Canada players to watch

Gavin McKenna, C/W, 2026 NHL Draft eligible

McKenna is now tied with Martone for the Canadian single-tournament scoring record with 16 points and is unstoppable. His speed is dangerous and he has the hand skills to cut through defenses with ease. He has the ability to take over the game despite being so young.

Porter Martone, C/W, 2025 NHL Draft eligible

A combination of size and skill with above-average skating ability has allowed Martone to impose his will at times throughout this tournament. He reads the plays well and picks his spots. After two World Under-18s, he is now Canada’s career scoring leader with 22 points, surpassing Connor Bedard’s previous mark of 21.

Charlie Elick, D, 2024 NHL Draft eligible

Elick is a high-end defender who is difficult to get around and will likely have some tough matches in this game. He has good physicality, but it’s his skating ability that really stands out. As long as he keeps his game simple, he will be difficult to play against.

Tij Iginla, RW, 2024 NHL Draft eligible

Iginla continues to find ways to score goals. He has high-end hand skills with good speed and a wicked release, which he showed off a few times in this tournament. Iginla’s pedigree is well known, but he has proven himself as the top scorer for Canada so far with five goals and nine points.

Matthew Schaefer, D, 2025 NHL draft eligible

I hadn’t seen much of Schaefer this season, but now that I’ve seen him live, I was amazed. The 16-year-old blueliner, who will be among the youngest draftees next season, has tremendous skating ability, good skills and a maturity in his game that is always on display.

US vs. Canada gold medal match prediction

This is as close as it gets on paper. Looking at the lineups from top to bottom, I’m inclined to say Canada has a bit more talent. That said, the US has the advantage of continuity as all but a few of these players have been preparing for this moment together for two years.

Still, anything can happen in one game.

I think this game will be won on the margins, with special teams possibly playing a role. I think the goaltenders, Carter George for Canada and Nick Kempf of Team USA, will just have to manage the game for their team as the scoring opportunities of varying quality will come in large numbers in this matchup.

The advantage of the US is that I don’t know of any player who has unknowingly been as good in this tournament as James Hagens. If he gets hot early in this game, it will be impossible to slow him down. But if the likes of Charlie Elick and Canada’s physical players can take him off his game, it gives them a chance. There’s no doubt they’ll try to get him. They’ll have to catch him first.

I think this will be an exciting match between two absolute heavyweights at this level, but I’m going with Team USA looking for a close win for gold.

Score prediction

US 5, Canada 4

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