Game Recaps: January 5, 2018
By BuffaloWorldJuniors.com Staff
Gold Medal Game: Canada 3 – Sweden 1
By Alec Gearty
Carter Hart was able to do something no goaltender accomplished while at the World Junior Championship: contain Sweden. The Canadian net-minder made 35 saves to secure Canada’s 3-1 gold medal-winning victory over Sweden at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo.
Hart’s performance marked the most saves he’s made since the beginning of the tournament but in total modesty, he wasn’t interested in talking about his statistics.
“To be honest, I don’t care about how it was individual right now,” Hart said. “It’s definitely one of the best games to be a part of in my life. It’s one of the best days of my life right now.”
Canada’s captain Dillon Dube was less reserved when speaking about Hart, who allowed the fewest goals amongst goalies.
“He played great for us,” Dube said. “He was our best player tonight and throughout the tournament, he’s been unbelievable. He gave us confidence to do what we could up front and I’m so happy for him.”
From the moment the puck dropped, Hart was composed. The opening period, while scoreless, involved missed opportunities for both teams. With less than eight minutes remaining, Dube believed to have scored the opening goal as did the thousands in attendance at KeyBank Center. The officials waved off the tally and deemed that play was dead.
Dube would later have another crack at making the crowd roar.
The Golden, British Columbia native scored 1:47 into the second period to pull Canada in front for the game’s first lead. Dube, who entered the contest with three points, beat Sweden’s Timothy Liljegren for the inside edge before teammate Jordan Kyrou found Dube streaking towards the net.
“It was tough,” Dube said. “It was nice to get a little momentum, but that second one, I guess the first one overall in the game, to get that was a nice confidence booster.”
Dube’s goal was the first time Sweden trailed in its first six games.
Canada held that lead for the better part of the period. When Sweden’s Lias Andersson was penalized for interference, it seemed Canada was moments away from extending the lead. Instead, Sweden capitalized on the penalty kill.
Tim Soderlund, who tallied four points all tournament long, beat Hart’s glove side to bring the game to gridlock. When the game progressed late into the third period, Canada said the period had an overtime feel to it — whoever scores next will be the team who takes home the gold medal.
Sweden’s Jesper Sellgren rang off his shot off the post in the third period but it wasn’t able to settle down offensively. Sweden was again forced to go up against Canada’s power play.
Sweden was called for two penalties in under four minutes and led to Canada nearly taking advantage. Taylor Raddysh came within inches of giving Canada the late lead but the puck bounced off the post. When it seemed like Canada and Sweden were surely heading past regulation, Tyler Steenbergen made his presence felt in front of the mass crowd.
Steenbergen scored with 1:40 remaining in regulation to the give Canada its 17th gold medal. Steenbergen, who had yet to score all tournament long, was Canada’s hero.
“I couldn’t be happier for any other guy to get it,” Dube said. “Right when he got that, it was the best feeling I’ve ever had. He’s a champion forever now.”
Alex Formenton added an empty net goal to put the game out of Sweden’s reach.
Sweden’s loss extends the country’s stretch without a gold medal to six years. Andersson felt that this tournament was his group’s “last chance” at bringing a gold medal back home.
As Sweden was being awarded its silver medal, Andersson wanted nothing to do with it. As the medal was placed over his head, he immediately took it off and sent the hardware over the boards into the 100 level of KeyBank Center.
“There was one guy in the stands who wanted it more than me,” Andersson said. “So I decided to give it to him. He deserved it.”
Bronze Medal Game: United States 9 - Czech Republic 3
By Aaron Cheris
With their most dominant period of the tournament, the United States earned a bronze medal with a lopsided 9-3 victory over the Czech Republic on Friday night at KeyBank Center.
Up 1-0 heading into the second period, the Americans rattled off six goals in the middle frame to increase the lead to 7-0, effectively ending the game. Trent Frederic led the way with four goals while Kieffer Bellows added two goals in the win.
Team USA equals the bronze medal they took home the last time the tournament was held in Buffalo in 2011.
“It’s a huge win. It shows just how hard this tournament can be. It’s not the one we wanted, but it’s a huge honor to get the bronze medal,” Bellows said. “This win sets the stage that USA Hockey is in a good place right now.”
“It was great. I was just having fun out there. Any time you can put the puck in the net, it’s a fun time,” Frederic said. “We wanted to win a medal, and that’s what we did.”
The United States came out firing early, recording the first nine shots on goal of the game before the Czechs fired their first shot on goal at Jake Oettinger over 12 minutes into the period. The Czech Republic responded with the game’s next seven shots, but nothing would find the net until the dying seconds of the period.
On a penalty kill in the period’s final seconds, American forward stole Frederic the puck at his own blue line, raced in the other way on a breakaway, and scored low past Czech goalie Josef Korenar to give the Americans a 1-0 lead after one period.
“It gave us a little life,” Frederic said. “We were a little bit more relaxed, but they were going in, so that was nice.”
Down just one, the Czechs looked to be in the game, but it quickly unraveled in the second period.
Seconds into the period, team USA scored a second shorthanded goal on the same penalty kill as Joey Anderson stole the puck behind the Czech net and passed to Ryan Poehling, who scored to double the American lead.
“Tonight we lost the game on the power play,” Czech coach Filip Pesan said. “We gave up two goals on 13 seconds at the end of the first and the beginning of the second. We were not the better team tonight.”
Brady Tkachuk’s pass to the front of the net banked in off Andreson’s skate to make it 3-0. After that, the Czechs looked to change their momentum by putting Jakub Skarek in net to replace Korenar, but the move did not work.
Frederic scored his second off a pass from Quinn Hughes less than two minutes later to increase the lead to four.
Bellows was awarded a penalty shot and converted it for his first goal of the night and the Americans’ fourth goal of the period.
Five minutes later, Frederic completed his hat trick with a blistering wrist shot high past Skarek before Bellows scored his second of the period with a perfectly placed wrist shot of his own to give Team USA a 7-0 lead after two periods.
With the two goals to give him nine on the tournament, Bellows passed Jeremy Roenick’s record for most goals scored by a U.S. player in a single World Junior tournament.
“I think my success came from all my great teammates and the guys I’ve been with,” Bellows said. “It’s a huge honor to break the record. [Roenick] is a legend. But without my teammates, it wouldn’t have happened.”
In the third period, the Czech Republic got on the board as Martin Kaut and Radovan Pavlik scored in the opening three minutes to cut the deficit to 7-2, but they would get no closer.
Frederic scored his fourth of the game to add to his incredible night with a power-play goal five minutes in off a pass from Bellows.
“He was awesome today,” American coach Bob Motzko said of Frederic. “We saw how he could shoot the puck. He got to do that a lot today. He was great.”
Czech forward Daniel Kurovsky cut the deficit back to five goals two minutes later.
“We tried to play better in the third period and we got three goals,” Czech forward Filip Zadina said. “But we did not play good the whole game and that’s why we lost today.”
For the Americans, Patrick Harper capped the game’s scoring by scoring his second goal of the tournament with less than three minutes to play.
In goal, Oettinger made 28 saves on 31 goals to earn the win before Jeremy Swayman made four saves in the final minutes of the game, his first action of the tournament.
“I’m very proud of our guys,” Motzko said. “Our players wanted to leave here on a positive note and we’re very proud of the effort they put in tonight to get it done.”
The win gives team USA a medal at three straight tournaments for the first time in team history. The Czech Republic’s fourth-place finish marks their highest finish at a tournament since winning bronze in 2005.