FRISCO, Texas - The matchup is set. After four preliminary round games and a re-seeding of both groups, the U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team is set to take on Sweden tonight in the quarterfinals of the 2021 IIHF U18 Men's World Championship. Start time is set for 8:00 pm CT / 9:00 pm ET and will be broadcast live on NHL Network.
The U.S. comes into the playoff stage off of a thrilling 5-4 overtime come from behind victory against Finland Saturday evening. Down a goal late in the game, Team USA pulled its goaltender, which led to a Ty Gallagher (Clarkston, Mich.) game-tying goal with two seconds to play in regulation.
Sasha Pastujov (Bradenton, Fla.), the team's leading scorer through four games, completed the comeback with a tally less than a minute into the overtime period to give the U.S. a 5-4 win.
"Each game we're growing, and that was our goal coming into the tournament," Pastujov said after the win. "If each game, we can play a little more the right way, a little more championship hockey, I think that will lead us towards the end and we'll be successful."
Team USA finished the preliminary round with a 1-2-1-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record and the third most points in Group B while Sweden finished second in Group A with a 3-0-0-1 record, its lone loss coming to Canada.
Pastujov's seven points (4-3-7) leads Team USA while Lane Hutson paces the team with five assists. Dylan Duke (Strongsville, Ohio) and Gallagher have added a trio of goals apiece. The U.S. has received some strong goaltending from Kaidan Mbereko (Aspen, Colo.) the past two games, posting a 2.65 GAA and .922 SV%.
The U.S. will look to shut down Sweden's leading scorer, Fabian Lysell, who has five points (1-4--5) through four games. Isak Rosen leads the team with three goals and 20 shots on net. Carl Lindbom has appeared in all four games in goals, with a 2.70 GAA and .914 save percentage.
Today’s Opponent History: Sweden
Team USA and Sweden have seen each other plenty in this tournament, their 18 matchups makes the Swedes the second-most played opponent for the U.S. Team USA has had resounding success in terms of record, skating to a 13-2-0-2 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record in those games, but the battles have tightened up lately. The two sides have split their last pair of preliminary round matchups in 2018 and 2019; in their latest knockout round game, Sean Dhooghe (Aurora, Ill.) scored the game-winning goal with 21 seconds left in overtime at the 2017 semifinals in Poprad, Slovakia.