TAMPERE, Finland – The U.S. Men’s National Team fell to Latvia, 4-3, in overtime here today in the bronze-medal game of the 2023 IIHF Men’s World Championship before a capacity crowd at Nokia Arena.
“It’s obviously not the way we wanted to finish, and full credit to Latvia, but I’m proud of our guys and their commitment and selflessness throughout the world championship,” said David Quinn (Cranston, R.I.), head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team. “This team is a special group and one our country can be proud of.”
Latvia opened the scoring 7:49 into the first frame after a back-door pass from Rihards Bukarts found Roberts Bukarts for a wide-open tip-in on the power play.
Team USA answered back with the equalizer just two minutes later. Following sustained offensive-zone pressure, Anders Bjork (Mequon, Wis.) won the puck along the boards and centered a pass to Scott Perunovich (Hibbing, Minn.). Perunovich then dropped a pass to a streaking Rocco Grimaldi (Rossmoor, Calif.) who ripped a shot far stick-side shot from inside the right circle.
The U.S. had a power play with 6:26 to go in the period and had sustained pressure but was unable to convert. Latvia regained a 2-1 lead with just under four minutes remaining in the first as Janis Jaks tapped home a rebound.
Once again, the U.S. tallied the equalizer in short order, this time on the power play. Grimaldi recorded his second of the period, rocketing a one-timer from the left faceoff dot past the Latvian netminder Artus Silovs to pull the game to 2-2.
The U.S. controlled play in the middle stanza, outshooting Latvia, 10-3, but the game remained tied after 40 minutes. Captain Nick Bonino (Unionville, Conn.) had one of the best chances near the five-minute mark of the period with a shot alone from the right circle.
Team USA took the lead 6:19 into the third after Drew O’Connor (Chatham, N.J.) won an offensive-zone faceoff back to Dylan Samberg (Hermantown, Minn.) at the point. Samberg’s long shot bounced off the goaltender before finding a waiting Coronato on the post who put the puck in the back of the net.
With just over five minutes remaining in the game, Latvia’s Kristians Rubins shot found its way under Casey DeSmith’s (Rochester, N.H.) pad through traffic to tie the game. DeSmith stopped a flurry of shots at the net front a short time later to keep the game tied and also foiled a semi-breakaway during the waning seconds of regulation.
Just over a minute into the three-on-three overtime, Rubins tallied his second of the game, a rebound shot that found its way over DeSmith’s glove to propel Latvia to its first ever medal in the men’s world championship.
NOTES: Rocco Grimaldi (Rossmoor, Calif.), who had two goals, was named U.S. Player of the Game…The U.S. was 1-3 on the power play, while Latvia was 1-4… The U.S. outshot Latvia, 29-25... Team USA won eight of its 10 games in the tournament and finished fourth.