TAMPERE, Finland – The three-plus week journey that began back in early May concludes here today with the U.S. Men’s National Team facing Czechia in the bronze-medal game of the 2022 IIHF Men’s World Championship. Opening faceoff is set for 3:20 p.m. (8:20 a.m. ET) and the game can be seen live on NHL Network.
The U.S. has faced adversity in various forms during the tournament, including have its blueline decimated by injury. Team USA, like in yesterday’s semifinal, will again play with just four true defensemen in captain Seth Jones, alternate captain Nate Schmidt, Andrew Peeke and 18-year-old Luke Hughes. There’s also likelihood that fans will again see forwards Sam Lafferty and Riley Barber helping fill the void on the back-end.
Jones has been a giant for the U.S. in the tournament. He played 31:57 yesterday and leads the world championship in average ice time per game at 26:43, more than three minutes a game ahead of any other player in the tournament. He’s also contributed five points offensively, with a goal and four assists.
Team USA is playing for a medal for the sixth time in the last nine world championships, its best stretch in better than 70 years. All six of those appearances are in the bronze-medal game and the U.S. has won four of the previous five contests in that stretch. The U.S. faced the Czech Republic in the 2013 bronze-medal game and earned a 3-0 victory. Team USA defeated Germany, 6-1, in the bronze-medal contest in last year’s world championship.
Team USA will go with Jeremy Swayman in goal, his seventh straight start. The Anchorage, Alaska, native is the tournament’s third-ranked netminder with a 1.32 goals against average and .943 saves percentage. Swayman has two shutouts to his credit in the tournament, including against Switzerland in the quarterfinals.
The U.S. faced Czechia earlier in this year’s world championship, with the Czechs gaining a 1-0 win on May 23 in the preliminary round. Team USA had a 24-16 shots-on-goal advantage in the contest and the lone goal came midway through the opening period. In the all-time series, there have been 17 previous meetings between the two teams, with each side having eight wins with one tie.
Today’s contest is the 10th in the world championship for both teams. The U.S. opened with a 4-1 win over Latvia on May 13 and has won six of its nine contests. Officially, Team USA brings a 4-2-0-3 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record into today’s final tilt, while Czechia is 5-0-1-3.