Team USA Golden In WJC

The United States made the most of their chances and skated to an almost flawless 6-2 victory over Sweden to capture their sixth all-time gold medal. They won their first in 2004 and most recent in 2021, and have won those six in 21 years. For Sweden, heartbreak on home ice. In this their seventh hosting of the tournament, they have yet to win gold.

The Game

The Americans won with penetrating counter-attacks and a lethal touch around the Sweden goal. They finished the tournament with seven wins in as many games, and time might show this to be one of the greatest American teams of all time. The game started cautiously, but Sweden started to assert itself and had the puck in the U.S. end for several extended stretches, they misfired too often and ended up not testing Trey Augustine to any great degree. Their best player was Noah Ostlund, who had three terrific chances. But he fired high and wide on the first, didn’t get much wood on a backhand between his legs, and was stopped by Augustine after a great move.

At the other end, Quinn Finley split the defense and went in alone, but as Havelid tried to poke-check him, Finley moved wide only to run out of room. The Americans struck for the opening goal at 16:56 on a great play by defender Will Smith. From the point, he took a slap-pass to Gabe Perreault to the side of the goal, and Perreault redirected the puck past the outstretched pad of the goalie, sending the small but loud contingent of American fans into a frenzy.

The Swedes got just the start they needed in the second, tying the game at 2:13 on a play we’ve seen before. Mattias Havelid took a simple point shot that was beautifully tipped in front by Otto Stenberg. The Swedes continued to press and had the better of play, but time after time they fired wide on a good scoring opportunity.

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End Game

But the Americans were utterly brilliant on the counterattack, springing a man as soon as they got possession in their end. Will Smith created a partial breakaway through speed and hard work, but he shot wide. But on another counter, Isaac Howard corralled a clearing along the boards when a Swedish defender had turned the wrong way. Howard went in alone and slid the puck between Havelid’s pads at 9:24 to restore the Americans’ lead.

Worse for the home fans, the U.S. doubled their lead five minutes later. Howard came out from behind the goal and faked a pass in front, putting the puck on goal instead. It went off the goalie’s back skate and in, silencing the crowd and giving the visitors a 3-1 lead.

Sweden got a desperately needed goal before the end of the period, though. Working the power play, Jonathan Lekkerimaki blasted a high-point shot past Augustine with only 5.2 seconds left on the clock, a motivating goal if ever there was one.

But the Americans responded just 1:19 into the third after Sweden iced the puck unnecessarily. The U.S. won the ensuing faceoff back to the point, and Zeev Buium wired a shot that Havelid probably should have stopped. 4-2 U.S..

Making matters worse, Ostlund took a double minor for high sticking midway through the period, and although the Swedish penalty killers were flawless, it killed four more minutes off the clock for the U.S. Soon after he came out, Ostlund hit the post, and then he was beaten in his end to the puck by Ryan Leonard, who converted the play with a nice shot at 16:12, more or less sealing the victory.

Rutger McGroarty sealed the win with an empty netter at 16:50.

Matt Bednarczyk
Matt Bednarczyk

Matt Bednarczyk is your host of Talking Philly Sports With Matty B. He is a proud retired US Army Sergeant First Class, he is also a combat veteran with over 80 months served in Afganistan, and Iraq . Huge Hockey Fan. Matt is a lifelong 4 for 4 Philly sports fan. Born and raised on the Mayfair and Tacony neighborhood lines of Northeast Philly. He brings over 40 years of Philadelphia Sports passion and provides a realistic look at our Major Sports Teams and the most passionate sports fans on the planet. Look for his show live on Edge of Philly Sports.