United States shuts out Czechia for men’s gold
by Chris JUREWICZ|31 JAN 2024
photo: © OIS (Olympic Information Service) / Joel Marklund
In a rematch of a game that took place in the preliminary round – which Czechia won 6-5 in a shootout – the Americans were left smiling and celebrating as they won men’s gold with a 4-0 win over the Czechs.

Mikey Berchild got things started for Team USA with a powerplay goal in the first and JP Hurlbert scored in the second. Berchild got his second goal of the game in the final frame and Zane Torre added one more to make it a 4-0 final.

Xavier Wendt stopped all 29 shots he faced for the shutout.

“It means the world. It started a couple of weeks ago, our process, we called it the 'gold medal process' and from Day 1 it’s been our goal,” says Berchild. “It means the world to achieve it with this group. We have such a good team, such a good goalie, such good guys around us. So, we were really confident coming into this game.”

Berchild led the Americans in points with nine (four goals, five assists) in four games but this was a balanced United States attack throughout the tournament. Hurlbert had seven points, Parker Trottier and Torre each had five and Logan Stuart chipped in a goal and three assists.

The Americans’ road to gold didn’t come without challenges, though. They needed a shootout to beat Slovakia in the preliminary round and then dropped a shootout loss to Czechia. In the semifinals, the United States went into a shootout once again, edging Canada 6-5.

USA head coach Joe Bonnett was pleased that his club could win the final in regular time.

“We had three ties (before the final), and we were kind of wondering, you know, can we try to get a win in regular time,” he says. “But we knew we were playing good hockey all along, and our goal was just one day at a time and get better with each game and I thought our team did that and we were able to have a good (final) game.”

In the men’s bronze medal game, Canada jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead on Finland, but the Finns stormed back and won 5-4 in, what else, a shootout.

Jiko Laitinen and Luka Arkko got goals for Finland in the first to make it 3-2 Canada after 15 minutes and then Wilmer Kallio and Viljo Kahkonen got second-period goals to make it 4-3 Finland heading into the third.

Canada’s Mathis Preston scored in the final frame to force a shootout, with Eelis Uronen and Matias Myllyniemi getting the lone shootout goals to give Finland the bronze medal.

Carter Esler made 32 saves on 36 shots for Canada and Pyry Lammi turned away 29 of 30 shots after replacing Wiliam Gammals in the Finnish net.