Ducks prospect John Gibson (Anaheim’s second round pick, 39th overall in 2011) led Team USA to a 3-1 win over Sweden today in the Gold Medal Game at the World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.
Gibson was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament, becoming the first United States goaltender and second American overall to win the award after Zach Parise in 2004 (the MVP award was established in 2004). He was also named by the IIHF Directorate as the Best Goaltender at the tournament (sixth American to win the award) and was selected to the Media All-Star Team.
Overall, he finished the tournament 5-2 with a 1.36 goals-against average (GAA) and .955 save percentage (SV%) in seven games, leading the tournament in wins, GAA, SV% and saves (193). His .955 SV% set a new Team USA record (in the World Juniors), going back to the inception of the tournament in 1977.
The Ducks were also represented in today’s Gold Medal Game by right wing Rickard Rakell (first round, 30th overall in 2011) and center William Karlsson (second round, 53rd overall in 2011). Rakell finished the tournament leading Sweden in assists and co-leading the team in scoring (0-6=6), while Karlsson has added two assists (0-2=2) in six contests. It was the second consecutive Gold Medal Game appearance for both players (Sweden defeated Russia in 2012).
Gibson spoke to reporters via conference call following the gold medal win:
On winning gold
It really hasn't sunk in yet. We kept getting better and better and the team that gets better is the team that usually wins the tournament.
On being cut as a youth player growing up in Pittsburgh
I was cut from lots of teams in Pittsburgh. But I just kept using it as motivation, want to prove people wrong.
On his relationship with Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler [won WJC gold with USA in 2010)
I talked to him at training camp a couple of years ago, but haven't talked to him a lot since. From what everyone says and just watching him, it definitely left an impression [on me].
On he and other members of last year's bronze medal winning squad getting 'redemption' this year
It feels great. We wanted redemption and to come back better this year. We didn't know what to expect, but this is just amazing right now.
On his play in the tournament being his best hockey ever
It's definitely up there. I'm just trying to play my game right now, not do too much and just keep the puck out of the net.
On USA bouncing back from loss in 2011 WJC Semifinal
I think we just stuck to our game plan and didn't get away from it. We just tried to play our game and not do too much and not worrying about what other people said (of us) being an underdog.
On seeing Canadian teammates back in Kitchener (whom he and USA beat in the WJC Semifinal)
I don't know. Right now, I'm just trying to enjoy this part and will worry about that when it happens.
On his hockey influences growing up
I always liked Ryan Miller growing up, watching him in the Olympics. I liked all the Penguins, being a Pittsburgh guy. It wasn't one guy. I was always a Penguins fans and followed them a lot.
On where the WJC Gold ranks in his career accomplishments
It's some of the best talent in the world in this age group and if you can have success there, you can carry that on to the next level and go on from there.
On USA's defense and teammate Rocco Grimaldi (Rossmoor, CA native; player of the game)
The D has been playing really well and making my job a lot easier. As far as Rocco, he's the type of guy who, even if he's not scoring , he's still producing in a lot of other ways. It's nice to see him get the golden goal and play really well and have a breakout game.
On enjoying the victory before returning to play with OHL Kitchener
I don't when we'll arrive back [in Kitchener], but we're definitely going to enjoy it tonight and when we get back to Kitchener.
On Team USA's defensemen and who may have NHL futures
They all are. They play well and you saw how well they played against some of the best offensive teams and best players in the world for this age group. They hung tight and made my job a lot easier.
On the honor of being tournament MVP
It's pretty cool. I worry more about team honors, but it's definitely a pretty awesome honor.
On developing into an NHL player
I don't know. I just want to keep playing my game and right now just enjoy this and take it one step and one day at a time. I'm not going to change anything, just keep playing hockey.
On comparisons to former standout USA goalie Jim Craig
It's an honor. Never heard that one. Any time you're in the same mention [as him], it's a pretty unbelievable honor.
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