EDMONTON, Alberta – Matt Coronato (New York, N.Y.) led the U.S. with two goals in a 3-2 win over Sweden here tonight at Rogers Place, securing the top seed from Group B preliminary round play at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship. Team USA will faceoff against Czechia in quarterfinals action Wed. (Aug 17) at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.
“We were moving our feet best in the third period and were really playing to our identity in that final period,” said Nate Leaman, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. “I thought we were a little tight to start the game but that's to be expected. It's better to get that out of the way before quarterfinals."
The U.S. attack grabbed the attention of Sweden, just one minute in. Logan Cooley (West Mifflin, Pa.) and Coronato crashed the net of Sweden’s Jesper Wallstedt, looking for a rebound, but the game remained scoreless.
Five minutes in, Sweden nearly took the lead at the front of the U.S. net, but committed an infraction on the trailing play, sending Team USA’s powerplay unit onto the ice. Luke Hughes (Canton, Mich.) found himself with the puck at the blue line, and rifled a cross-ice pass to Thomas Bordeleau (Houston, Texas). Bordeleau hesitated which opened up a lane for a pass that found its way to the skates of Brett Berard (East Greenwich, R.I.), who jammed it home for a 1-0 lead.
Team USA’s penalty kill got to work to start the second period, as Sweden used the momentum to gain possession over the first five minutes. Matt Knies (Phoenix, Ariz.) stole momentum back for the U.S. and grabbed a loose puck off a faceoff and left it for Cooley on a quick cycle. Cooley fired a shot toward the net, and Coronato pushed the rebound under Wallstedt’s blocker, putting the U.S. up 2-0. Sweden responded quickly with a partial breakaway, but U.S. netminder Kaidan Mbereko (Aspen, Colo.) got to the top of his crease and shut down any chance of a Swedish goal.
Sweden, again, tried to gain momentum on the powerplay, but it was the U.S. penalty kill that got the upper hand. With 1:02 remaining in the middle frame, Sweden was called for a minor minute penalty, leaving the U.S. powerplay 58 seconds to open the third period. At the final whistle of the frame, the U.S. gameplan showed signs of suffocating Sweden’s offense, limiting them to just three shots in the period.
Five minutes into the third period, Cooley intercepted a Swedish pass on the forecheck, spun for a moment of separation to find a streaking Landon Slaggert (South Bend, Ind.). The puck was kicked out to Coronato, who was waiting to sling home his second goal of the night, above the waving glove of Wallstedt.
Sweden got on the board with 8:22 remaining in the game, firing a shot through a netfront scramble. Sweden went to the powerplay with under two minutes remaining, as they pulled their netminder in favor of a 6-on-4 man advantage. Sweden scored quickly, but as the final horn sounded through Rogers Place, the U.S. emerged as the top seed from Group B, holding a 4-0-0-0 record.
Mbereko stopped 28 of 30 shots for his third win in net of the tournament.
NOTES: Matt Coronato (New York, N.Y.) was named U.S. Player of the Game … The U.S. outshot Sweden, 41-30 … Team USA went 1-3 on the powerplay, while Sweden went 0-2 on the man advantage … This is the fourth U.S. National Junior Team since 2000 (2017, 2008, 2004) to win all its preliminary round games in 60 minutes, and the sixth team since 2000 to go unbeaten (2011 and 2002).