Team USA defeats defending champion Sweden for gold at WJC
The disappointments of last year were all but forgotten in Ufa, Russia as Team USA defeated Sweden in a 3-1 victory for gold at the World Junior Chamionships. After failing to reach the medal round in 2012, defenseman Seth Jones made a bold statement heading into the tournament this year, claiming the US was the best team. Turns out, he was right.
The two teams were familiar with each other after several meetings in the U18 tournament, and a whopping 17 members of Sweden’s team had lost to the US in the gold medal game of that tournament in 2012. The US might have won their last seven straight meetings with Sweden, but the Swedes were no underdog having taken home gold at the WJC last year.
Sweden got up with a goal from Filip Sandberg early in the second, but struggled to get past goaltender John Gibson or capitalize against USA’s strong penalty kill.
USA rallied with two goals from Rocco Grimaldi, who struggled to get pucks to the net early in the tournament, but certainly turned it on at the right time. He saw a bit of bad luck with a shot that rang off both posts and bounced out of the net, but luck went his way with the pair of second-period goals that earned him Team USA’s player of the game title.
Gibson continued to be stellar in net, setting an American single-tournament WJC record with a .955 save percentage and making 26 saves in the win.
The Swedes pulled goaltender Niklas Lundstrom with 1:35 left to play, which gave Vince Trochek the chance for an empty netter with 16.7 seconds left to seal it for the Americans.