| Team USA won the gold medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Former Warriors Colin White and Noah Hanifin were named to the All-Tournament team.|
The Winter Olympics may still be weeks away, but that did not keep a trio of former Valley Jr Warriors from earning gold medals.
Colin White (Hanover, MA), Casey Fitzgerald (North Reading, MA) and Noah Hanifin (Norwood, MA) - all former members of the VJW ’97 Elite squad – left Massachusetts this season in order to compete for the U.S. National Under-17 Team.
This past week, the Warriors became a part of USA Hockey history as they helped Team USA to a gold medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Team USA blanked Pacific by a score of 4-0 in the gold medal game held at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S.
It marked the fourth time that the United States has won the gold medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. The U.S. also won gold in 2001, 2002 and 2010. The gold medal game victories in 2001 and 2002 both came against Pacific, which has now taken home the silver medal on six occasions (2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2014), more than any other team in tournament history.
Leading the way offensively for the United States was White, who registered a goal and one assist in the gold-medal game.
His lone goal was an important one which came just 33 seconds into the second period.
After a quick breakout, Jeremy Bracco skated the puck deep into the Pacific zone. White came streaking down into the slot and slammed a pass from Bracco into the back of the net. Team USA went on to score three unanswered goals in that period.
White recorded at least a point in all six games for Team USA and finished as the tournament’s top scorer with 18 points (10 goals, eight assists).
In his team’s final preliminary-round game, White exploded for two goals – including a short-handed tally – and one assist to lead Team USA past Team Ontario, 6-2.
Hanifin, meanwhile, has established himself as the team leader as he wears the “C” proudly on his jersey.
"This has been the goal of the year, to win this tournament," said Hanifin in an interview with USA Today following the victory. "It was an awesome tournament. It was a great experience. It's really great to bring the trophy home."
Through 32 games, White stands as the team’s leading scorer with 25 goals and 21 assists. Hanifin has posted 21 points while Fitzgerald has registered 8 points thus far.
Following the gold medal game, the tournament all-star team was announced and it was no surprise that two of the Warrior players – White and Hanifan – made the list.
2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge all-star team:
Goaltender: Michael Lackey (United States)
Defence: Noah Hanifin (United States)
Defence: Jérémy Roy (Quebec)
Forward: Dylan Strome (Ontario)
Forward: Artur Tyanulin (Russia)
Forward: Colin White (United States)
Click here to visit the U.S. National Under-17 Team's home page.