CORNWALL, Ontario – Eric Pohlkamp (Brainerd, Minn.) scored a pair of power-play goals and captain Cole Knuble (Grand Rapids, Mich.) netted the game winner as the U.S. Junior Select Team rallied from a two-goal deficit in a 4-3 victory over Sweden in the semifinals of the World Junior A Challenge tonight at the Cornwall Civic Complex.
“I’m really proud of this group,” said Eric Rud (Inner Grove Heights, Minn.), head coach of the U.S. Junior Select Team, “Tonight, when it really counted, we really stuck with the game plan. The guys have bought in right from the beginning and have been positive from our first call as a team. I thought our team concept for this event really paid off tonight. When we got down two, the guys got tighter and were rewarded with a great win.”
With the win, the U.S. will now face Canada East in the championship game tomorrow (Dec. 18) at 5 p.m. ET live on NHL Network.
“We came here with one mission,” Rud added. “We came here to win the tournament. Now we have that opportunity and we know we’re playing a difficult team in Canada East. They’ll be dialed in and coming in with massive momentum after a big win today. We’ll have our hands full, but we’re not going to change anything in terms of the way we play.”
Tanner Ludtke (Elko, Minn.) staked the U.S. to a 1-0 advantage with the only goal of the first period at 7:41, whacking in a rebound after Joe Palodichuk (Cottage Grove, Minn.) fired a shot from the point. Nathan McBrayer (Columbus, Ohio) also earned an assist.
Sweden scored three times in the opening 14:00 of the second to take a 3-1 lead, but Pohlkamp beat Swedish netminder Noah Erliden with a wrister on the power play with 2:43 left in the period and tied things up with a snipe from the faceoff dot while on the power play with just :11 to go in the period.
Knuble scored the game winner for Team USA at 8:50 of the third, carrying the puck into the zone down the right side and scoring on with a nifty wraparound move to bring the final tally to 4-3.
Jacob Fowler (Melbourne, Fla.) finished with 16 saves in the U.S. net.
NOTES: Eric Pohlkamp was named the U.S. Player of the Game … Team USA outshot Sweden 35-19 … Team USA was 3-4 on the power play, while Sweden was 0-2 … Ryan St. Louis (Burlington, Vt.) had two assists in the game … For Team USA’s roster and schedule, click here.