EDMONTON, Alberta – Behind a 27-save performance from Spencer Knight (Darien, Conn.) and a goal and two assists from Trevor Zegras (Bedford, N.Y.), the U.S. National Junior Team earned a 4-0 victory over Sweden in its final preliminary round game of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship to earn first-place in Group B. It was the third straight shutout for Team USA.
“I’m very proud of the way that we came back in this tournament from losing our first game, to then win our group is a good accomplishment,” said head coach Nate Leaman (East Greenwich, R.I.). “I think we continue to be a disciplined team which has been very important to our success and now the tournament begins. We have to reset our mindset, we can’t live in the past of the success we’ve had, and we need to get ready for the second phase of the tournament.”
The U.S. will face Slovakia on Saturday (Jan. 2) in the quarterfinal round of the tournament live on NHL Network. Game time is set for 10:30 p.m. ET.
The U.S. took control of the game early, scoring twice in the first four minutes of the opening period. Drew Helleson (Farmington, Minn.) collected the rebound of a John Farinacci (Red Bank, N.J.) shot from the right point in the far corner and fired the puck from just below the goal line off Sweden netminder Hugo Alnefelt and into the net. Then at 3:58, Zegras scored his sixth goal of the tournament, wristing the puck into the top corner of the net from the far side of the left circle.
Like the opening period, the U.S. struck twice in the opening four minutes of the second stanza. Zegras quickly found Ryan Johnson (Irvine, Calif.) after a faceoff win by Alex Turcotte (Chicago, Ill.) and Johnson put the puck past Alnefelt at 2:00 from the bottom of the left circle for a 3-0 U.S. lead. The final goal of the game came from Turcotte just 1:55 later when he spun around at the top of the crease and hit the back of the net for his first goal of the tournament. Arthur Kaliyev (Staten Island, N.Y.) and Zegras drew assists on the play.
Knight, who made nine saves in the first period and 13 more in the second, kept Sweden off the board in the third period with five stops to gain his second straight shutout in the tournament.
NOTES: Alex Turcotte (Chicago, Ill.) was named Team USA’s Player of the Game … The U.S. outshot Sweden 37-27 … Team USA was 0-2 on the power play, while Sweden was 0-1 … Team USA has recorded three shutouts to date in the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, the most ever for the U.S. in a single World Junior Championship … Through the preliminary round, Trevor Zegras (Bedford, N.Y.) leads the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship with 13 points (6-7—13).