Piestany, Slovakia - Mikey DeAngelo (Itasca, Ill.) dished out two assists in a U.S. three-goal fleury in the opening frame, but it wasn't enough as Sweden battled back for a 5-3 victory in preliminary play.
"We had a much better start to the game today and we were happy about that," said J.D. Forrest, head coach of the U.S. Under-18 Men's Select Team. "It was just a few little mistakes that set us back but the team made great improvements and put in great effort."
The U.S. came out with intensity, controlling the opening draw and firing a shot within seconds of the period. Three minutes into the period Gavin Hayes (Westland, Mich.) forced a turnover with his strong forecheck, setting up a Brennan Ali (Glencoe, Ill.) shot. Swedish goaltender Hugo Havelid stopped the initial shot, but Hayes cleaned up the rebound for an early lead. Nearly five minutes later while the U.S. was playing shorthanded, Jake Livanavage (Gilbert, Ariz.) sent a deep breakout pass off the boards to Mikey DeAngelo (Itasca, Ill.) who skated to the net, firing a shot off the Swedish netminder. Trailing behind was Jonah Aegerter (Janesville, Wis.) who picked up the loose puck rebound to bury Team USA’s second goal of the game.
Sweden would answer with a goal of their own on a breakaway opportunity to cut the lead in half, but with nearly 30 seconds left to play in the period, Cole Knuble (East Grand Rapids, Mich.) went glove-side and was able to answer right back to give the U.S. a two-goal lead heading into the first intermission.
Although the U.S. put the pressure on early once again, putting a shot on net right after puck drop, Sweden was able to answer with a goal 2:40 into the middle frame. The U.S. looked to build upon its lead with multiple scoring chances on the power play, but it would be Sweden who scored next, adding their second goal of the period to tie the game up at three.
Both teams went back and forth during the first half of the final frame before Sweden would break the tie with 8:00 left to play. Sweden tallied one more with less than 3:30 remaining, forcing the U.S. to leave their net empty for the extra skater. Team USA was able to put a couple quality scoring chances on net, but was unable to find the back of the net as they fell, 5-3.
Lucas Szyska (Westmont, Ill.) started in the net for the U.S., stopping 19 of 24 shots.
The U.S. rounds out the preliminary round in the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup against Germany Wednesday (Aug. 4) at Easton Arena in Piestany, Slovakia. Puck drop is set for 9:30 a.m. ET. Action will be streamed live on YouTube.
NOTES: Ryan Abraham (Livonia, Mich.) was named U.S. Player of the Game … The U.S. outshot Sweden 44-24 … Team USA and Sweden were both 0-5 on the power play … Follow Team USA throughout the tournament by clicking here.