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U.S. Falls to Sweden, 4-2, in WJC Semifinals

By USA Hockey, 01/04/18, 4:30PM EST

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Team USA plays for bronze tomorrow at 4 p.m. ET

BUFFALO, N.Y. -  Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn./Portland Winterhawks) and Brady Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo./Boston University) both scored but the U.S. National Junior Team fell to Sweden, 4-2, here tonight in its semifinal game of the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship here at KeyBank Center.

“This was a tough night for us but I thought we fought to the very end,” said Bob Motzko, head coach of the 2018 U.S. National Junior Team. “Fortunately, this tournament isn’t over. There’s still a medal at stake and I know our guys are going to be ready to make our country proud.”

Team USA (3-1-0-2/W-OTW-OTL-L) will play in the bronze medal game tomorrow (Jan. 5), when it takes on either Canada or the Czech Republic. The game is set for 4:00 p.m. ET at KeyBank Center with tickets available here and will be broadcast live on NHL Network.

The U.S. opened the game with a strong five minutes of play but were unable to convert on a flurry of chances. Goaltender Joseph Woll (St. Louis, Mo./Boston College) stood tall 7:56 into the period when he made a sprawling save, shifting from post to post before covering a one-timed shot attempt from Sweden. Both teams traded chances in the second half of the frame but the game remained scoreless entering the middle stanza.

The second period started with a pair of end-to-end rushes that saw quality saves from both team’s goaltenders. The best U.S. chance came just before the midway point in the period when a long-range shot from Logan Brown (St. Louis, Mo./Windsor Spitfires) forced a rebound that Riley Tufte (Ham Lake, Minn./University of Minnesota Duluth) tried to corral and tuck past Sweden’s net minder Filip Gustavsson but saw his chance denied.

Elias Pettersson gave Sweden a 1-0 lead with 6:30 remaining in the period when his shot from the top of the left circle beat Woll high glove-side. Just two minutes later, Max Jones (Rochester, Mich./London Knights) nearly evened the score off a passing play from Casey Mittelstadt (Eden Prairie, Minn./University of Minnesota) but his attempt was stalled by Gustavsson.

Near the midway point of the final stanza, Sweden tallied three goals in a two-minute span to push its lead to 4-0. Bellows was able to bring the U.S. back within three at the 12:24 mark when he skated from behind the net and tuck a shot over the glove of Gustavsson. Then with 3:01 remaining, Tkachuk caught a rebound in front of the net and banged it home to close the gap to two.

In the final minutes of the game, the U.S. pulled goaltender Jake Oettinger (Lakeville, Minn./Boston University) for an extra attacker but were unable to convert, accounting for the 4-2 final.

Woll finished with 15 saves while Oettinger stopped the only shot he faced in relief. 

NOTES: Josh Norris (Oxford, Mich./University of Michigan) was named the U.S. Player of the Game while Kieffer Bellows, Adam Fox (Jericho, N.Y./Harvard University) and Casey Mittelstadt were named the Top 3 U.S. Players of the Tournament … The U.S. outshot Sweden, 31-20 … For the complete game statistics, click here… Jim Johannson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) is serving as the general manager of Team USA for the ninth consecutive year ... Bob Motzko (St. Cloud, Minn.) is serving as head coach for the 2018 U.S. National Junior Team and joined behind the bench by assistant coaches Greg Brown (Scituate, Mass.), Grant Potulny (Grand Forks, N.D.), Kris Mayotte (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Steve Miller (Littleton, Colo.) ... USA Hockey’s international council, chaired by Gavin Regan (Potsdam, N.Y.), vice president of USA Hockey, has oversight responsibilities for all U.S. national teams ... All U.S. games will be broadcast live on NHL Network.

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U.S. Schedule

Date Opponent Location Result U.S. Player of Game
Wed., Dec. 20 Belarus
Pre-Tournament Game
Northwest Arena
Jamestown, N.Y.
W, 14-0 NA
Fri., Dec. 22 Sweden
Pre-Tournament Game
Erie Insurance Arena
Erie, Pa.
W, 3-1 Na
Tues., Dec. 26 Denmark
Preliminary Round
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 9-0 Casey Mittelstadt
Thurs., Dec. 28 Slovakia
Preliminary Round
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
L, 2-3 Brady Tkachuk
Fri., Dec. 29 Canada
Preliminary Round
New Era Field*
Orchard Park, N.Y.
W (SO) 4-3 Casey Mittelstadt
Sun., Dec. 31 Finland
Preliminary Round
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 5-4 Joey Anderson
Tues., Jan. 2 Russia
Quarterfinals
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 4-2 Kieffer Bellows
Thurs., Jan. 4 Sweden
Semifinals
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
L, 2-4 Josh Norris
Fri., Jan. 5 Czech Republic
Bronze-Medal Game
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 9-3 Trent Frederic

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