CESKY TESIN, Czech Republic – The U.S. National Junior Team won a back-and-forth tilt 6-4 over Sweden, as Nick Robertson (Northville, Mich.) tallied two goals to lead Team USA. In total, five different U.S. skaters scored goals, while Spencer Knight (Darien, Conn.) and Dustin Wolf (Gilroy, Calif.) split netminder duties.
“I thought we played much harder and came out strong after first intermission,” said head coach Scott Sandelin (Hibbing, Minn.). “I’m glad we showed what we did, come back with that effort and get the results.”
Team USA forced possession in the first few minutes of the game, but Sweden pushed back and took an early 3-0 lead heading into intermission.
Twenty-four seconds into the second period, the U.S. took a penalty and Sweden look poised to score again. However, it would be Shane Pinto (Franklin Square, N.Y.) creating an offensive chance, as he intercepted a pass and fired a shorthanded attempt on net. The U.S. would go on to kill the penalty and carry momentum.
Curtis Hall (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) capitalized on a slot pass 2:38 into the second and fired his shot to the top corner over the outstretched glove of Swedish goaltender Hugo Alnefelt. Two more U.S. goals came within the next six minutes, first from Cole Caufield (Stevens Point, Wis.) in tight, and then from Pinto who buried a Spencer Stastney (Mequon, Wis.) rebound to tie the game at three apiece.
Knight faced back-to-back scoring opportunities in front of his own net, his final two saves of the night, before Wolf entered at 10:15 in the second period.
With the game tied 3-3, the U.S. had its first power play opportunity with 5:51 remaining in the middle period. Zac Jones (Glen Allen, Va.) fired a puck from the blue line, sending the glass behind the net shattering to the ice. Both teams waited to complete the final 4:40 of the period on clean ice. Two minutes in, Robertson pounced on a turnover in the neutral zone to give the U.S. its first lead of the game. Robertson would score again, this time on the powerplay, as he skated through two defenders and finished on his backhand with only one second remaining in the period.
Thirty seconds into the third period, Sweden came tearing through the U.S. zone on an early three-on-one opportunity, but K’Andre Miller (Minnetonka, Minn.) battled back to break up the play. Sweden tallied a power play goal 7:38 into the final frame, and seven minutes later found themselves on the man advantage once again. Ty Emberson (Eau Claire, Wis.) helped keep the game 5-4 with two crucial blocks while Wolf shut down Sweden’s attack. As time expired Miller took a Robertson pass and scored an empty-net goal, putting the U.S. up 6-4.
The U.S. continues pre-tournament play tomorrow (Dec. 23) against Germany, with puck drop scheduled for 5:00 p.m local time/11:00 a.m. ET. The game can be streamed live here.
NOTES: Nick Robertson (Northville, Mich.) was named U.S. Player of the Game … The U.S. is 1-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) in pre-tournament play … Follow Team USA throughout the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship here.
|Date||Opponent||Location||TIME (LOCAL/ET)/RESULT||Broadcast||U.S. Player of the Game|
|Thurs., Dec. 26||Canada
|Ostravar Arena||L, 4-6||NHL Network||Shane Pinto|
|Fri., Dec. 27||Germany
|Ostravar Arena||W, 6-3||NHL Network||Trevor Zegras|
|Sun., Dec. 29||Russia
|Ostravar Arena||W, 3-1||NHL Network||Spencer Knight|
|Mon., Dec. 30||Czech Republic
|Ostravar Arena||OTW, 4-3||NHL Network||Cole Caufield|
|Thurs., Jan. 2||Finland
|Werk Arena||L, 0-1||NHL Network||Spencer Knight|