Americans eliminate Swedes
Americans eliminate Swedes
Tre Kronor offence silenced for second game in a row
And unluckily for the three-time consecutive silver medalists, the result was the same. Buoyed by two goals in the opening period and a strong defensive effort, the United States shut the Swedish offence down through three periods, claiming a 4-0 victory and a berth in the semi-finals.
Thatcher Demko had a 28-save shutout effort and defenceman Will Butcher was selected as Best Player for Team USA.
“There’s no question that when a team sees its goaltender play great then it’s a huge boost,” said head coach Don Granato. “He’s (Demko) capable of what he did today, we hadn’t seen that yet at the tournament, I think he overthought things earlier in this tournament and that him struggling a bit, but today should be a huge boost for his confidence and his performance.”
“We were very happy with our game today, we played great defensively as well as offensively,” said USA captain JT Compher. “Demmer’s been good for us all year and we really trust him, and when our defense is making great palys and blocking shots it really makes it easier for our offence.”
Butcher scored on the power play and Tyler Motte, Mike McCarron, and JT Compher rounded out the scoresheet to keep the four-time defending champions in contention for what could be an eighth gold medal in the 15-year history of the U18 World Championship.
“As a team I wouldn’t say we had a load of confidence going into this game based on how we played earlier," said Demko. "But we needed to generate confidence because from now on it’s do-or-die for us.”
But first, the Americans will move on to the semi-final and await the winner of tonight’s game between tournament host Russia and Germany.
A holding penalty on Sweden’s Andre Burakowsky at 7:30 of the opening period led to the first goal for the Americans. The goal came courtesy of defenceman Will Butcher, who blasted a hard low shot from the point that made it through heavy traffic in front of the net and between Swedish goaltender Jonas Johansson’s legs for the opening goal.
The U.S. followed up soon after with another score, when forward Hudson Fasching outmuscled a Swedish defender behind the net and forced the puck to Tyler Motte waiting in front for the 2-0 lead.
Sweden, one of the highest scoring teams in the preliminary round, was unable to generate any kind of sustained offensive pressure through the game. During a short two-man advantage in the second period, Lucas Wallmark fanned twice on a wide open net. Soon after, the U.S gifted the Swedes with another 5-on-3 for 1:26 when McCarron’s clearing attempt sailed into the stands for a delay of game.
But Tre Kronor were still unable to get any pucks past goaltender Thatcher Demko, and soon after the whistle blew for the second intermission increasing the Swedish scoring drought to five consecutive periods.
“Two games in a row now we were making good chances and we just can’t score,” said Sweden captain Jacob de la Rose, “It’s really disappointing to finish the tournament this early.”
The U.S. stretched its lead to 3-0 in the third period with a power play marker at 13:10. Desperate to generate some kind of offence, Sweden pulled its goalie with over five minutes remaining in the game. But the only score came in teh form of an empty net goal from USA captain JT Compher to all but end Sweden’s 2013 U18 campaign, the first time that the Nordic country has been eliminated in the quarter-final since 2009.
As for the Americans, they will be hoping for a Russian victory against Germany, which would give them a chance to avenge a 4-3 loss in the opening game.
“Absolutely, anytime you lose to a team you take it personally," said granato. "I think our players definitely want to have another chance at them.”
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