Amherst’s Ryan Leonard scores OT goal to win IIHF U18 men’s world championship for Team USA

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Published: 04-30-2023 5:42 PM

Ryan Leonard carried the puck across the blue line and slammed on his left edge to move between the circles and two Swedish defenders.

Playing in his second IIHF U18 world championships, the Amherst native picked his spot to end a six-year gold medal drought. He flicked a wrist shot past Swedish goalie Noah Erliden. then wheeled around and threw off his helmet and gloves as his teammates piled around him.

Team USA won 3-2 in Switzerland on Sunday after rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the third period. The Americans hadn’t won gold since 2017 but claimed their 11th title overall. They lost last year’s final against the same Sweden squad, and Leonard played on that team a year ago as an under age player.

He looked more than grown in 2023, finishing with 17 points in seven games, the third most in the tournament. Leonard’s eight goals were the second most in the tournament.

The USA went 7-0 and outscored its opponents 51-10.

The Boston College-bound Leonard who is expected to be a first-round pick in June’s NHL Draft had a hat trick against Switzerland and at least a point in every game.

He amassed 51 goals and 94 points in 57 games for the US National Team Development Program U18 squad this season. The world championships conclude his second year in the program, which he joined after his sophomore season at Pope Francis.

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