The United States may have come up short in their quest for back-to-back golds at the World Junior Championship, but they're not leaving the 2018 tournament empty-handed.
Team USA made sure of that with a dominant 9-3 win against Czech Republic in the bronze medal game on Friday afternoon in Buffalo, New York. The victory secured a third-place finish for the Americans, who have now medaled at the WJC in three consecutive years for the first time in program history.
The bounce-back win for the U.S. comes on the heels of a disappointing semifinal defeat at the hands of Sweden on Thursday afternoon, while Czech Republic suffered their second straight loss in a 24-hour span. The Czechs were steamrolled by Canada in their semifinal matchup on Thursday night.
The United States' top performer on Friday was forward Trent Frederic (Boston Bruins), who scored four goals in the win. The 19-year-old forward, who was a first-round pick in 2016, had just one point in his previous five games at the WJC, but he clearly saved his best showing for last.
Frederic was just a single goal short of matching most by an American player in a single WJC game. Wally Chapman scored five times against Switzerland in 1984 while Chris Bourque did the same against against Norway in 2005.
American forward Kieffer Bellows (New York Islanders) also had himself a day, scoring twice against the Czechs. The pair of goals gave Bellows nine in the tournament -- a new Team USA record for most goals in a single World Juniors tournament. Jeremy Roenick previously held that honor with eight at the 1989 WJC.
Overall, the bronze medal finish is undoubtedly a little disappointing for this American group, as they had dreams of winning back-to-back golds at the WJC for the first time in program history. But, all things considered, it's certainly better to go home with something rather than nothing.
On top of that, several American players impressed throughout the tournament, which will only help their cause as they look to make a push towards the NHL level. Bellows, Casey Mittelstadt (Buffalo Sabres), Brady Tkachuk (2018 eligible) were the stars up front, while Adam Fox (Calgary Flames) and Dylan Samberg (Winnipeg Jets) stood out on the back end.
What else happened on the final day of the WJC?
- Canada beat Sweden 3-1 in a thrilling gold medal game