Before the ball fell in Times Square in New York City, the puck fell in Alberta between two high-stakes hockey powers. The United States and Sweden met in the last game of the preliminary round of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship with a quarter-final placement.
And just before midnight on the East Coast, the US team skated with a 4-0 victory.
The Americans opened the scoring just 1:09 into the game, as Drew Helleson shot the puck towards the net from the corner and below the goal line. Just over two minutes later, it was Trevor Zegras with the goal at an odd angle as he shot it at the net from left half-board and the puck went over Hugo Alnefelt’s shoulder. . The USA team added two more goals in the second period, one from Ryan Johnson – his first of the tournament – on a magnificent set that earned the game a victory in the Swedish zone and another by Alex Turcotte – also his first. The latter goal knocked Alnefelt out of the net.
“It went really well, but I think it surprised us a bit, I think it surprised us all,” said head coach Nate Leaman. “I bounced off that first goal and then Trevor just made a great play on that second and I think it surprised us a little bit. I think it shook them up a bit and I thought we had made a good first. But the Then I thought we had slacked off a bit. In the third period, we put the game back on the line … So it was a good victory for us, it was a victory for us. needed and we found a way to do it. “
“I think the start was huge tonight. I thought it really got our whole squad started,” said team captain Cam York. “But at the end of the day our goal is to win a gold medal. Today was a big step in that direction. But we have to do it game by game …. [and] the quick start has been huge for us and we have to keep doing it here. “
With his goal and assists in the middle two games, Zegras is now tied for third all-time on the United States’ career points list in the junior world with current NHL player James van Riemsdyk. (22 points). His three points also give him 13 points for the 2021 edition as he took the lead in points from Canadian Dylan Cozens.
“Obviously I think I’m shooting the puck more,” Zegras said when asked to discuss what’s different from last year when he had collected nine assists. “I think I have a little more confidence in these areas. I play with two great players, Arthur Kaliyev and Alex Turcotte, they put me in very good places and I’m pretty lucky and I put them away.”
In the back, Spencer Knight continues to roll between the pipes. After giving up four goals on 12 shots against Russia, Knight has now backed the United States to back-to-back shutout wins – the first American goaltender to accomplish the feat. He stopped 27 of 27 on New Years Eve, including a big padstop on a wraparound second-half attempt.
“He’s always been very tough mentally,” Zegras said. “Whenever he comes out of a tough game he always seems to bounce back, and I think if we’re going to be a really successful team here, we need him to be really good for us every night, and two shutouts. in a row, hopefully builds his confidence and prepares him for the quarter-finals. “
Between Knight and Dustin Wolf, the US goalies did not allow a goal in 206: 35, setting a record set in 2015 by the gold medalist team (205: 45). Including the shutout of Wolf of Austria, this is the first time USA Hockey has recorded three shutouts at the World Juniors.
The United States was without the injured Patrick Moynihan. The Devils prospect took a late (and, many would say, dirty) blow against Austria (the player was suspended two games for the blow) and was also knocked down against the Czechs. With Moynihan out, the American dressed 12 forwards and eight defensemen, while Senators prospect Tyler Kleven was in the back. Moynihan’s status for the tournament is unknown.
The Americans will now face Slovakia in the quarter-finals on January 2 at 10:30 p.m. ET (NHL Network / TSN).
“We know we have to play our best,” said Leaman, who was on the coaching staff for the 2009 USA Hockey team, upset by the Slovaks. “Now it’s important that we play our best and it was discussed with the guys after the game that in order to be successful we can’t live without it and it’s a new tournament now.”
Sporting News got all the action as the United States finished 2020 on a high note and took first place in Group B. The United States has won the group five times previously, finishing with four medals (bronze in 2011; silver in 1996; gold in 2004 and 2017).
(All Eastern hours)
USA vs Sweden score, 2021 World Juniors highlights
Third period: USA 4, Sweden 0
11:48 p.m. – Lots of chances for the Americans with the last few seconds of the power play.
11:45 p.m. – Sweden takes an attacking zone penalty. With 8:04 left in the game, the Americans are in complete control.
11:41 p.m. – Spencer Knight with a pad save.
11:34 p.m. – Neither team has much fire yet during this period.
11:26 p.m. – Final 20 of the game. Final 34 of 2020. Let’s go.
11:09 p.m. – According to NHL Network, the United States have not allowed a goal in two hours and two seconds with a goaltender in the net.
Second period: USA 4, Sweden 0
11:07 p.m. – Knight makes a good shot on the point fired in traffic.
11:05 p.m. – Soderblom rings one on the pipe. Sweden are getting closer, but that’s the closest in the power play.
11:04 p.m. – Kaliyev is called in to stumble and gives the Swedes their first power play of the game.
11:01 p.m. – With five minutes to go, the United States edged Sweden 27-22.
10:58 p.m. – Spencer Knight doesn’t know where the puck is and leans the wrong way during a looping attempt, but kicks the pad out at the last second to keep Sweden from playing.
22:42 – Change of goalkeeper for Sweden. Hugo Alnefelt is absent. Jesper Wallstedt is there.
10:41 p.m. – GOAL. On a scramble in the slot, Arthur Kaliyev feeds Alex Turcotte standing on the doorstep and on the opposite side. Turcotte stuffs the puck and gets his first of the tournament. The USA leads 4-0.
10:40 p.m. – On the penalty shot, Victor Soderstrom is wielding the stick and he had space after pulling Knight out of position, but loses control of the puck as he goes to his forehand and doesn’t even get a shot.
10:39 p.m. – Arvid Costmar barges in and is shot down by Jackson Lacombe – and we get a penalty!
10:36 p.m. – OBJECTIVE. Two minutes after the start of the period. A passage on the royal road after a clear victory of Trevor Zegras and Ryan Johnson buries it. The USA leads 3-0.
22:34 – In the first minute of action, Sweden got chances including one by Lucas Raymond that Spencer Knight stopped.
10:33 p.m. – The period is ongoing.
First period: USA 2, Sweden 0
10:14 p.m. – A good first period for the Americans. Spencer Knight stopped nine shots as the Americans netted 14, including both from bad angles that resulted in goals.
10:10 p.m. – With two seconds to go, Alex Turcotte receives an extra love shot for the goalkeeper and the Swedes come to him.
10:05 p.m. – Americans are heading for the power play.
9:53 p.m. – After making the save, Alnefelt is out of position, but Alex Turcotte cannot push the puck. Victor Soderstrom with a stick stopper and a beauty.
9:44 p.m. – GOAL. Trevor Zegras launches the shot next to the half-wall on the left planks and he finds the daylight over Alnefelt’s shoulder. The USA leads 2-0.
9:43 p.m. – The teams exchange their chances to score.
9:39 p.m. – GOAL. At just 1:09 into the game, Drew Helleson throws the puck into the net from the corner and under the goal line and it gets in one way or another. The USA leads 1-0.
9:37 p.m. – The match continues and as the referee said: “Let’s finish 2020 here.”
Before the match
9:37 p.m. – Silky mittens.
8:45 p.m. – The lines are here.
Looks like the United States will face off against Calle Clang (PIT) in their first WJC game. Hugo Alnefelt (TBL) is not playing for a second game in a row. Oskar Olausson (2021) is back in SWE training after sitting down last night. pic.twitter.com/JHaF0TO7YG
– Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) January 1, 2021
World Juniors 2021: Latest news