WJC FINALS PREVIEW - BRONZE MEDAL

2023-01-05 · 2 min read · IIHF World Juniors/Hockey
USA versus Sweden

Andy Devlin via Getty Images

Bronze Medal Game - Sweden vs USA
Both these teams have to be feeling a little bitter after blowing a lead and failing to make it into the gold medal game. Sweden was up one zip for a huge chunk in their semi-final matchup with Czechia. It wasn't until the final 50 seconds that the game was tied before they eventually lost in the dying minutes of overtime.
Sweden literally came in an inch from the gold medal game when Noah Ostlund squeaked one through the five-hole of Czechia netminder Tomas Suchanek, who proceeded to reach behind himself and snatch the puck off the goal line. While the United States seemed to be taking control of their semi-final match with the powerhouse Canadian squad getting a two-nothing lead in just over the first 10 minutes of the game. Yet they eventually lost 6-2, during the game the United States had two separate goals disallowed for goalie interference.
They also weren't able to get it done with the man-advantage going 0-4 despite generating some solid chances against Canadian goalie Thomas Milic, who in their defence was outstanding. U.S. coach Rand Pecknold said he expects the U.S. to bounce back Thursday the way it did after a 6-3 loss to Slovakia on Dec. 28. One day later they won 5-1 against Switzerland. Sweden’s coach Magnus Havelid felt similarly saying "I want to have a bronze medal instead of being No. 4, we're going to have a team meeting during this next game tonight, try to refocus on that game, that's for sure." As is often the case in the medal games both teams are talented and motivated with a good chance of coming home with the bronze.
The United States needed to shore up their defence and clean up the turnovers that allowed Canada to come back against them in the semi-finals. Sweden needs to find ways to break out into the offensive zone while recovering and stabilizing the excellent cycling that had made them deadly in their best moments but was successfully stifled by the tough physical Czech defence in the semi-finals. As is often the case in tight games it seems the biggest key here will be goaltending, as this game features two of the tournament's top netminders in Carl Lindbom and Trey Augustine.
The United States needs Augustine to put the Canada game behind him and regain the form that has made him one of if not the tournament's premier goaltender so far. Sweden needs Lindbom to regain the sharpness that had him start this tournament with two straight shutouts and shake off the somewhat soft goals he allowed against Czechia. Whichever nation has the goalie most on top of his game is the team that has the best shot at winning.
Prediction: Sweden 3-2
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By: Chase Howard

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