LANDSHUT, Germany - Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Neb.) scored twice and was named U.S. Player of the Game, but the U.S. U18 Men's National Team wasn't able to complete a third-period comeback attempt and fell to Sweden, 6-4, in the 2022 IIHF U18 Men's World Championship gold medal game.
With the silver medal, the U.S. U18 Men's National Team earned its 18th medal in tournament history, more than any other competing country.
Team USA, which ended up outshooting Sweden 51-15 in the game, came out firing in the opening frame.
Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass.) struck first to give Team USA a 1-0 lead 2:24 into the game. With a hard forecheck, Cole Spicer (Grand Forks, N.D.) knocked the puck off a Swedish defender right to Devin Kaplan (Bridgewater, N.J.). He went cross-ice to Leonard, who fired his one-timer from the bottom of the left circle for the game's first score.
Sweden got on the board and then took a lead with a pair of quick scores just past the midway mark of the period. Oskar Pettersson netted a wrister to tie the game and then Noah Ostlund deflected a puck out of mid-air through Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich.) to give the Swedes a 2-1 lead with 6:48 to play in the first.
The U.S. used a quick offensive rush to tie the game off the stick of Frank Nazar III (Mount Clemens, Mich.) before the close of the period. After clearing a Swedish shot attempt, Tyler Duke (Strongsville, Ohio) sent a great outlet to Nazar, who entered the offensive zone, angled himself to fend off a defender and ripped a quick wrister over the shoulder of Hugo Havelid to tie the game after 20 minutes.
Sweden regained the lead on a power-play goal at 11:59 of the middle frame. Liam Ohgren's shot got through the five-hole to give the Swedes a 3-2 advantage.
Ostlund added another on a 5-on-3 man-up opportunity, netting his chance from the bottom of the right faceoff circle.
Team USA cut into the deficit with a huge slap-shot from McGroarty during 4-on-4 play. Logan Cooley (Pittsburgh, Pa.) controlled the puck in the offensive zone, surveyed his options and found the captain with a cross-slot pass for a one-timer at 16:03 of the second. The goal was McGroarty's team-leading seventh of the tournament.
The U.S. came charging hard out of the gates in the final period as they collected 13 of the first 15 shots of the frame, including a handful of chances on back-to-back power plays early on.
Halfway through the third, Ohgren used a nice forehand-backhand finish to net a breakaway goal and restore Sweden's two-goal lead at 5-3.
With just over three minutes left, McGroarty got Team USA within one with a power-play tally. Cutter Gauthier (Scottsdale, Ariz.) fed Howard, who one-touched a pass from the goal line to McGroarty in the slot for his second goal of the game.
Sweden managed to score an empty-net goal in the final minute to account for the 6-4 final score.
After the game, Hutson was announced as the top defenseman of the tournament and Cooley earned best forward. Both players were also named to the tournament media all-star team.
NOTES: Rutger McGroarty, with a pair of goals on the night, was named the U.S. Player of the Game ... For complete tournament news, including full schedule, broadcast information, stats and standings, click here ... Team USA news, including tournament interviews and highlights, can be found at TeamUSA.USAHockey.com ... The U.S. has won 10 gold medals in IIHF U18 Men's World Championship history, the most of any country ... Follow @USAHockey on Twitter for the latest information and updates throughout the tournament.