Team USA won’t be coming home empty handed. They defeated Finland 8-3 to take bronze at the Under 20 World Junior Championship at Hartwell Arena in Finland.
2016 Draft Eligible Matthew Tkachuk led the way with two goals and an assist. The son of former NHL star Keith Tkachuk had a good tournament finishing with 11 points (4-7-11). The 18-year old from St. Louis will return to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League where he has 14 goals and 45 assists for 59 points with 40 penalty minutes in 29 games. Tkachuk plays with USA teammate Christian Dvorak (2 assists) who had eight points (3-5-8) in the WJC.
Three Americans scored twice in the win including Bruins 2014 second round draft pick Ryan Donato. It was Donato who notched the game-winner in a dominant second period in which Team USA outscored Sweden 4-0 breaking open a 2-2 tie after one. After Brock Boeser put them ahead for good, Donato finished off a odd-man rush when he tipped in a perfect feed from Brandon Carlo. Ryan MacInnis started it with a takeaway in the neutral zone.
Anders Bjork also tallied two goals. Another Bruins prospect, Bjork showed off some nice skill when he took a Sonny Milano feed and danced around a Swedish defenseman dangling before going top shelf on Sweden goalie Felix Sandstrom. That made it 5-2.
Prior to the goal, Sweden had a goal from 2016 Draft Eligible Alexander Nylander wiped out. He redirected a shot that also caromed off a USA player past Alex Nedeljkovic which would’ve made it 4-3. However, Nedeljkovic immediately protested signaling high stick. Video review confirmed it leading to a reversal.
Carlo concluded the second with a nice finish from Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hitchcock increasing to 6-2 at 19:51. Schmaltz tallied three assists in the win. MacInnis had a pair including a quick set up for Donato on a forecheck behind the Swedish net that forced a Jacob Larsson turnover which made it 7-2 at 43:38.
Following a USA penalty kill of a abbreviated Sweden two-man advantage, Tkachuk got his second of the game when he converted off a two-on-one from Schmaltz.
Red Wings prospect Axel Holmstrom was able to get the third goal for the Swedes when he took a pass from Oskar Lindblom and came out from behind the net and beat Nedeljkovic on a wraparound. That concluded the scoring.
Goals from Bjork and Tkachuk put the Americans ahead 2-0 during the first. But Sweden countered with consecutive goals from William Lagesson and Carl Grundstrom 55 seconds apart to draw even after one.
USA took over from there scoring the next six to pull away. A well played game allowed them to be rewarded with bronze medals during a nice on ice presentation. That included winning coach Ron Wilson who will go back home to South Carolina.
Host Finland takes on Russia at 1:30 EST for the gold on NHL Network.