Caufield ties goal record, named MVP of World Championship
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
Former Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) standout Cole Caufield was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation U18 World Championship in Sweden last week, as he helped the United States win a Bronze Medal.
Caufield tied Alex Ovechkin’s World Championship record and set the United States record with 14 goals in seven games at the tournament in Ornskoldsvik-Umea, Sweden, which was held Thursday, April 18, through Sunday, April 28.
“Obviously you can’t do it without your team behind you,” Caufield told IIHF.com. “I think our whole team contributed and played well the entire tournament.”
A Mosinee native who was born in Stevens Point, Caufield played two seasons at SPASH, as he was a First Team All-State selection as a freshman in 2015-16 and a Unanimous First Team All-State selection as a sophomore in 2016-17, before he spent the last two seasons playing for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program (NTDP) in Plymouth, Mich.
In what would have been his junior year at SPASH last season, he scored 54 goals to finish just behind current NHL All-Star Auston Matthews’ NTDP record of 55 goals in the 2014-15 season.
This season, Caufield broke three-time NHL All-Star Phil Kessel’s NTDP career record of 104 goals (2003-05) when he scored six goals in a 12-4 win over the Green Bay Gamblers March 15 to give him 105.
In the preliminary round of the U18 World Championship in Sweden, Caufield scored three goals in the USA’s 6-1 win over Sweden April 18, then had four goals and two assists in a 12-5 win over Slovakia April 19.
Caufield followed with two goals in a 6-3 win over Russia April 21, and scored two more goals in a 7-1 win over Latvia April 23, as the United States went 4-0 in the preliminary round, and he ran his goal total to 11 to break the previous American single-tournament record of nine goals set by Kessel and Brett Sterling.
“It’s a pretty special feeling,” Caufield told ESPN after the game. “Any time you get to break a record like that, it’s special.”
Team USA opened bracket play against Finland Thursday, April 25, as Caufield finished with one goal and one assist in a 6-0 win.
That sent the United States to the semifinals against Russia Saturday, April 27, where Russia scored a second-period goal at the 38:24 mark to take a 1-0 lead.
It stayed that way until Caufield scored 12 seconds into the third period to tie the game at 1-1, while Caufield struck with a goal at the 43:16 mark to give the United States a 2-1 lead and tie Ovechkin’s single-tournament goal record with 14.
Russia scored a goal at 47:27 to tie the game at 2-2, which it remained through the rest of the third period and overtime, as the game went into a shootout, where Russia scored the lone goal to win 3-2 and advance to the Gold Medal Game.
“Obviously coming up short is just a really big disappointment,” Caufield said to IIHF.com after the game. “But we do have a game tomorrow. We’ve got to represent our country in a good way. We’ve got to come out with a medal.”
The United States came back with three second-period goals to break a 1-1 tie and take a 4-1 lead against Canada in the Bronze Medal Game Sunday, April 28, as Caufield recorded an assist in Team USA’s 5-2 win to bring home the Bronze Medal.
Along with tying Ovechkin’s record with 14 goals, Caufield finished with 18 points in the tournament to beat Kessel’s previous 2005 American single-tournament record (16 points), while United States teammate and projected No. 1 overall NHL Draft pick Jack Hughes scored 20 points to also pass Kessel and set the new American single-tournament record.
Caufield was selected as the MVP of the tournament, while he received the Best Forward Award and was named to the six-player Media All-Star Team, as he ended his U18 World Championship career as the all-time U.S. leader in U18 goals (18), and finished with 72 goals in 2018-19 to set the NTDP single-season record and NTDP career-record with 126 goals.
Caufield signed a National Letter of Intent to play hockey at the University of Wisconsin Nov. 14, where his older brother Brock was a freshman this season.
The 5-7 Caufield is expected to be a first round pick in the NHL Draft June 21 and 22, as he was ranked 10th overall Feb. 12 on ESPN’s midseason Top 50 for the 2019 NHL Draft, and was ranked eighth among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting’s final draft rankings April 15.