BUFFALO, N.Y.―Sweden went from flash to fizzle at the IIHF World Under-20 Championships, losing 4-2 to the United States in the bronze medal game at the HSBC Arena on Jan. 5.
The “Junior Kronor” roared through group play, knocking off eventual finalists Canada and Russia as well as Norway and the Czech Republic. The Swedes earned a bye into the semifinals, where they lost in an overtime shootout to Russia.
Swedish forward Oscar Lindberg opened the scoring in the middle period, but a determined American squad turned the game with two goals from Chris Kreider and another excellent performance from goalkeeper Jack Campbell, who had 34 saves.
The Americans extended their medal count to two gold medals, one silver and four bronzes in the World U20 Championship. Team USA also remained a headache for the “Junior Kronor.” The last time the blue-and-yellow defeated the United States in the U20 category was in the 1996 tournament―a 3-0 quarterfinal win on American ice in Amherst.
The U.S. out shot Sweden 13-5 in the first period, and Swedish net minder Fredrik Petersson Wentzel, who got his third start in this tournament, had to solve several delicate situations in front of his net.
The Americans had several quality chances, such as two shots from Kyle Palmieri after five and a half minutes, or when Jason Zucker could score into the empty net after 12 minutes but missed Charlie Coyle’s side pass, just to name a few chances.
However, all this was forgotten when Sweden came out from the dressing room with more determination for the second period. The first minutes of the period happened mainly on the side of American goalie Jack Campbell and Sweden eventually opened the scoring at 11:58.
Carl Klingberg fired a distance shot from the right side and Campbell blocked this shot, and Oscar Lindberg’s first rebound attempt from the other side, but Lindberg tried it again from the goal line, scoring with a shot that went in via Campbell.
The Americans reacted and were awarded a power play soon after the goal―and they capitalized on it 70 seconds later. Chris Brown carried the puck behind the net and passed to Chris Kreider, who shot the puck past Petersson Wentzel on the far side.
In the third period it came even better for the Americans when Drew Shore scored the lead after 52 seconds. He deflected Justin Faulk’s shot through traffic from the blueline.
The game remained open with opportunities on both sides including Brian Dumoulin hitting the outside of the post at 5:21. Nick Bjugstad made it a two-goal lead for Team USA at 11:40, redirecting a Nick Leddy pass into the net while standing with his back towards the Swedish crease.
Two and a half minutes later Jesper Fasth cut the lead scoring on his own rebound, but Chris Kreider made it 4-2 with 1:53 left in regulation time.
The U.S. outshot Sweden 44-36.