Rangers Radiance: USA's World Juniors Win Sparks Broadway Brilliance

Dive into the electrifying journey of Rangers' prospects as they shine on the global stage at the 2024 World Juniors. Two helped USA to gold.


New York Rangers prospects helped Sweden turn red, white, and blue on Friday. Team USA owned the 2024 World Junior Championships in Gothenburg, schooling the host, Sweden, with a 6-2 win in the Gold Medal Game, completing a perfect 7-0 tournament. It was America's sixth championship in 20 years (2004, 2010, 2013, 2017, 2021, 2024).

Gabe Perreault, the Blueshirts' 2023 first-round pick (23rd overall), had three goals and 10 points in seven games. The 18-year-old forward kicked off the scoring for Team USA and dished out two assists in the third period. Defenseman Drew Fortescue, the Rangers' third-round pick from the 2023 draft, also chimed in with an assist and had four points in the tournament. The triumph continued a fun Rangers World Juniors streak while cementing this group of boys as forever champions.

Redemption in its finest form:

In the spring of 2022, the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team had their eyes set on Gold at the IIHF World Men's Under-18 Championship. Yet Sweden's goalie, Hugo Havelid, made 47 saves, lifting Sweden to Gold.

Fast forward to last year, the U.S. and Sweden missed the gold-medal game at the World Juniors, but the U.S. snagged bronze. Yet, the hunger for revenge lingered among the 2004-born players. Their chance for redemption came on Friday, and they seized it. Inside Sweden's second-largest city, Frölunda, in front of 11,512 fans rocking the Gold Sweden Tre Kronor jerseys. Winnipeg Jets prospect Captain Rutger McGroarty and his crew were on a mission. The day before, they'd rallied from an 0-2 deficit for a 3-2 win over Finland in a nail-biting semifinal. Before the game, he declared this rematch "personal" and "emotional." It sure lived up to the hype.

Sweden controlled early, but the U.S. flipped the script with a penalty kill. Then, Perreault tipped a point shot at 3:04 in the first period for a 1-0 USA lead. After the Swedes tied it, Fortescue's clear off the boards hit Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Isaac Howard in stride for the first of his two-second-period goals. Yet when Vancouver Canucks prospect Jonathan Lekkerimaki scored, it seemed as if another Sweden comeback was in the cards.

That's when Team USA unleashed their best period, scoring 1:19 into the third. A Perrault faceoff win found San Jose Sharks prospect Will Smith, who fed Zeev Buium for a clapper from the point to make it 4-2. That took the air out of the arena, and Buium knew it, unleashing a superhero celebration. Then, with 3:48 left, Ryan Leonard, a hero from the 2023 U18 Men's World Championship, sealed the deal with an exceptional individual effort, getting around two Swedish players before blowing a kiss to the crowd.

Sweden pulled their goalie, but McGroarty, who'd bottled up two years of pain, netted the empty-net goal with a celebration that could've cracked the boards. Passion overflowed, punches were thrown, and penalties flew, but the U.S. celebration couldn't be dampened. Tears of joy flowed as they jumped on Detroit Red Wings prospect and goaltender Trey Augustine, who made 26 saves at the other end of the ice. Ultimately, the U.S. clinched Gold, erasing the pain of two years ago and leaving Sweden with silver and shattered dreams.

Blazing a Trail: Rangers' Rising Stars Light Up the 2024 World Juniors:

The victory marked the fifth straight year at least one player drafted by the Blueshirts scored gold at the event. And this year's skaters wouldn't even be Rangers if they'd beaten the New Jersey Devils in the playoffs last season. In 2020, it was Alexis Lafrenière who helped Canada to Gold. In 2022, Brennan Othmann, Will Cuylle, and goaltender Dylan Garand were a part of that Canadian championship team. Othman won again last year before Perrault and Fortescue continued the streak this season. The two didn't just shine in the gold medal game. They starred throughout the tournament.

Perreault had his standout moment of the fortnight on Tuesday, with a three-point night helping the United States advance to the semifinals. He was named the best player in their 7-2 win against Latvia. Gabe notched his first tournament goal, displaying some sweet moves and incredible hand-eye coordination, batting a puck out of midair. He also found New Jersey Devils prospect Seamus Casey for a tally and saucered the biscuit to Smith on an odd-man rush. On Thursday, he fed his USNTDP and Boston College buddy again to tie the game against Finland.

His tournament stat line doesn't include his heroics from the first Friday against Czechia. On the brink of a shootout loss, after the counterparts battled to a 3-3 stalemate, Perrault banked a backhander off the pads of Arizona Coyotes prospect Micheal Hrabal and in to keep his team alive. After Buffalo Sabres prospect and Czechia's goal scorer Juri Kulich was stopped by Montreal Canadiens prospect and Boston College netminder Jacob Fowler, Perrault had an opportunity to win the game but was stopped. However, Howard picked him and the Americans up, with the shootout winner moments later, sealing the victory.

Before Gabe's heroics, Fortescue scored his first goal for the United States, giving them a 1-0 lead just 1:31 into Tuesday's match with a blast from the point. The Americans also steamrolled 10-2 against Slovakia to clinch the top seed in the knockout stage, where Fortescue set up McGroarty's second of three goals with a perfect clapper. Drew was plus-four and logged a solid 16:21 in ice time against Latvia.

Also representing the Rangers well was Adam Sykora, who scored his first goal of the tournament for Slovakia with just 0.2 seconds left in the first period, giving them a 1-0 lead over Finland in the quarterfinals. Although the captain was named the player of the game, Slovakia was ousted in a 4-3 overtime defeat to Finland. Adam wrapped up the tournament with two points (goal, assist) in five games. That said, he did everything else exceptionally well. He won board battles, drew power plays, and killed penalties.

These young guns are proving New York's got talent, and the future on Broadway is shining bright. On Friday, two helped turn hockey fans back home red, white, blue, and Gold again.