It looked like it was going to be a low-scoring game. As Sweden and the United States played for bronze, the two goalies with the highest save percentages in the tournament were prepared to duel. Linus Soderstrom (.947), a New York Islanders prospect, and Carolina Hurricanes draftee Alex Nedeljokvic (.950) were hot.
Only, Soderstrom didn't play. Instead, Philadelphia Flyers prospect Felix Sandstorm, the projected starter before falling ill at the beginning of the tournament, was between the pipes for Team Sweden.
After a slow start, where Sweden outshot the United States early on, Team USA responded and pounced on its opportunities with two late first period goals from Boston Bruins draftee Anders Bjork and 2016 draft eligible winger Matthew Tkachuk.
Against Nedeljkovic, it appeared the Swedes had dug themselves a daunting early hold. But the strong goaltending narrative didn't want to hold. It's the World Juniors, and anything can happen.
Late in the period, Oilers draftee William Lagesson went to the net to bang home a play in front and 55 seconds later another draft eligible prospect, Carl Grundstrom, tapped home his first goal of the tournament on a cross-crease pass.
And after a last second USA penalty, Team Sweden had the game tied and a powerplay to start the second period.
The momentum continued to shift in the second period though. After the United States killed off their early penalty kill, a Will Borgen (Sabres) shot was tipped in by Canucks prospect Brock Boeser for his first goal of the tournament.
Then, before the period was five minutes old, the USA added to the lead as Bruins prospect Ryan Donato finished off a cross-crease pass to give Team Sweden three goals on three shots dating back to the end of the first period.
In typical World Juniors fashion, it appeared that Team Sweden was going to bring the game to within a goal before an Alex Nylander tip-in was called off for a high stick.
Midway through the period, a pair of Swedish penalties, including a double minor for high-sticking, gave the United States a brief 5-on-3 and an extended powerplay. Able to kill them off, Team Sweden then surrendered another even strength goal after Ducks prospect Marcus Pettersson got beat on an inside-out move by Bjork, who danced to the top of the crease and put the puck up under the bar for a beautiful individual effort and a 5-2 lead.
And the fifth goal was indicative of the game, as the floodgates opened and the United States appeared to toy with the Swedes on an ensuing 6-2 goal from defensemen and Bruins prospect Brandon Carlo off the rush.
Soon, the game became a clinic for a trio of Bruins prospects, as Donato scored his second of the game and the fifth goal for a player drafted by the Bruins to go up 7-2.
After the United States added to the lead with a Matthew Tkachuk goal, and Axel Holmstrom got one late for Sweden, the game finished a lopsided 8-3 bronze medal win for Team USA.
- Quiet first period. He had one nice curl and pass just inside the offensive zone before he was outmuscled later in the shift, allowing USA to exit the zone.
- Lightly checked from behind on a puck retrieval early in the second period. Found Rasmus Asplund cross-ice before an eventual point shot was redirected in and called off due to an Nylander high stick. Was on the ice when Bjork danced Pettersson for the 5-2 lead off the left wing.
- Created a nice end-to-end zone entry that led to a shot as he carried the puck around the net and threw it to the point. Otherwise, a quiet third period.