James Hagens, Cole Eiserman Smash Records As USA Wins U17 Challenge

The United States National Under-17 Team won its sixth World Under-17 Hockey Challenge title with a resounding 11-3 win over Canada Red in the championship game. The event hosted by Hockey Canada featured three Canadian teams, as well as the United States, Finland, Sweden and Czech Republic. The Americans topped the scoreboard with a perfect 7-0-0-0 record.

Team USA was led by a dynamic duo that completely rewrote the record books for a tournament that featured many of the NHL’s biggest stars today.

James Hagens, a Long Island native who won’t be eligible to be drafted into the NHL until 2025, set a single-tournament record with 21 points after a five-point performance in the World Under-17 Finals. His teammate and Massachusetts native Cole Eiserman had an astonishing six points with three goals and three assists in the Finals to finish second all-time in a single tournament with 20 points. In the process, he equaled Alexander Ovechkin’s record in a single tournament with 12 goals.

Although this tournament had one more match than most other years, Hagens’ record was not the product of more opportunities. His 21 points in seven games gave him an average of three points per game, which is identical to the average Colin White scored for the previous record of 18.

The American duo combined for a stunning 41 points, which also saw them surpass Czech forwards Petr Vrana and Ivo Kratena, who combined for 30 points at the 2002 World Under-17 Challenge as the highest scoring teammates in the history of the tournament. For more context, current NHL stars Jack Hughes and Cole Caufield scored 28 points collectively at the 2017 World Under-17 Challenge, which was the last time Team USA won the tournament.

The exploits of Hagens and Eiserman also overshadowed the very impressive performances of Canada forwards Red Porter Martone and Berkly Catton, who each collected 12 points in one of the best performances by a Canadian pair in the tournament. This year’s collection of talent at the event was truly special with many top prospects for the 2024 and 2025 NHL Drafts.

In addition to Hagens and Eiserman, the United States had major contributions from Max Plante (10 assists), Cole Huttson (10 assists) and Christian Humphreys (five goals, three assists), among many others.

The American starter, who comes from USA Hockey’s national team development program, beat tournament opponents 50-15 in one of the most dominating performances in tournament history. It should be noted that this event usually includes Russia, which is a particularly competitive nation at this age level. Russia remains banned from all international competitions due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. Despite their absence, there were some very strong teams in the tournament, especially a Finnish team who finished third in the event after being edged out for a championship spot by Canada Red.

The World U17 Hockey Challenge was back after a two-year absence due to pandemic restrictions. It was the first United States Championship since 2017, when Hughes and Caufield led the United States to a 6-4 victory, also against Canada Red.

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