Frederic’s Four Goals Power USA To Bronze; Canada Wins Gold

Trent Frederic scored four goals as the USA took home bronze and medalled for the third consecutive World Junior Championship, defeating the Czech Republic 9-3.

Kieffer Bellows, with two goals in this game, broke Jeremy Roenick’s United States record for goals in a single World Junior tournament. Bellows tied the record, set by Roenick in 1989, with his eighth goal which he scored on a penalty shot at the 7:23 mark of the second period. He then broke it with his ninth goal at 19:01 with a goal off an assist from Josh Norris. Congratulations to Kieffer Bellows (a draft pick of the New York Islanders and son of former NHLer Brian) on his achievement.

Devils’ prospect Joey Anderson had a goal and and an assist in the victory. Anderson’s stat line had him with the goal and assist for the two points, four shots on goal (third on the team behind Frederic’s six and Bellows’ five) and a plus-2 plus/minus rating in 16:43 of ice time.

The game was scoreless until Frederic scored his first shorthanded with just about four seconds remaining in the first period. The Americans would get two shorties on that penalty kill, as it would cross over to the second period and Ryan Poehling would notch one (assists to Joey Anderson and Scott Perunovich) nine seconds into the second frame. American goalies Jake Oettinger and Jeremy Swayman would split the game and stop 32 of the 39 shots they saw between them.

So with the bronze medal game out of the way, the US finishing third overall and the Czechs fourth, there was one order of business remaining: crowning the gold medalists. Canada and Sweden were ready to go.

The Canadians were shattered last year when the US defeated them in a shootout to win gold on their home turf of Montreal. This year in Buffalo, despite it being in the United States, the gold medal game was like a home game for Canada. And the Canadians got redemption in front of their own fans as they defeated Sweden 3-1.

After a scoreless first period, Canada scored just 1:49 into the second period to make it 1-0. Dillon Dube scored from Jordan Kyrou and Sam Steel. That goal marked the first time that the Swedes had trailed all tournament.

But before the end of the period, Sweden would make it a tie game when Tim Soderlund (who would be named the player of the game from Sweden; goaltender Carter Hart was the Canadian player of the game – he made 35 saves) scored from Linus Lindstrom and Erik Brannstrom shorthanded. That made for a 1-1 third period.

Sweden toyed with fire all game, giving the Canadians six power play opportunities. But ironically, it was an even strength goal that did the Swedes in. Tyler Steenbergen scored with just under two minutes left in the game off an assist from Conor Timmins. Sweden would pull goaltender Filip Gustavsson for an extra attacker, but Canada’s Alex Formenton would score into the empty net from Victor Mete. Canada had the 3-1 win and the gold medal. Sweden took home silver.

For the Devils prospects involved, Jesper Boqvist was an even plus/minus in only 5:20 of ice time while Fabian Zetterlund took a penalty (a tripping call four minutes before Steenbergen scored the go-ahead goal), had four shots on net and was a minus-2 in 12:03 of ice time. Michael McLeod was a plus-1 in 9:14 of ice time.

That the Canadians stayed in things as long as they did, let alone win things, was pretty amazing considering Sweden outshot them 36 to 28 on the night. But goalie Hart was amazing in keeping Team Canada in things. Swedish goaltender Gustavsson played well also.

Canada actually had a goal waved off early in the game when the ref blew the whistle after losing sight of the puck in a goal mouth scramble. But in the end it did not hurt as Canada found their redemption and gold.

Congratulations to all the kids who participated in the tournament and, especially, to the medal winners. Hopefully we will see some of these guys in Devils uniforms in the not too distant future.

Semifinals Get Going at WJC; Gold Medal Game To Be Set

By the end of tonight’s play, the gold and bronze medal games at the 2018 World Junior Championship would be set. We would find out if the USA would be on their way to defending their 2017 gold medal championship or if another challenger would step forward.

The day began with some bad news for fans of Belarus. Denmark won game two of their best-of-three relegation series, sweeping for the chance to stay in the WJC in 2019. The Danes will stay in the top pool while the Belarusians drop down one pool and battle to next year to try to get back into the top level. Belarus will be replaced by Kazakhstan next year in Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, according to the IIHF website. They won the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division I Group A which took place “in France a few weeks ago.”

So with that bit of business out of the way, the semifinals got underway at 4 PM with the United States taking on Sweden. The last time the Swedes had beaten the US in the semifinal round was 1996 according to the NHL Network’s broadcast. But that streak was to come to an end as the US fell to Sweden 4-2. The Swedes will play for the gold against the winner of the Czechs and Canada while the US will play for the bronze against the loser of that game.

There was no score through to the 13:30 mark of the second period when Elias Pettersson scored for Sweden. Sweden then opened the floodgates for the third period. Sweden scored three goals in a matter of two minutes and nine eight seconds to build up a 4-0 lead. The Americans notched one on the power play at 12:24 when Kieffer Bellows scored and got another one with goaltender Joseph Woll pulled when Brady Tkachuk scored off an assist from Devils’ prospect Joey Anderson at 16:59. But it was too little too late and the USA will not be able to defend their gold medal championship this year.

Anderson’s stat line read the assist, three shots on goal and an even plus/minus rating in a team-leading 25:02 of ice time. In other Devils-related news, former Devil and captain of the 2018 US Olympic hockey team, Brian Gionta, handed out the player of the game awards and the awards for each team’s “three stars of the tournament” on behalf of USA Hockey. Gionta is also a native of nearby Rochester, New York as well as a former Buffalo Sabre.

As for the Swedish Devils prospects, Jesper Boqvist had three shots on goal and an even rating in 12:10 of ice time. Fabian Zetterlund was an even plus/minus in just 4:34 of ice time.

The next game, and the one that will determine the opponents for the US and Sweden in their medal round games, was Canada against the Czech Republic. And the that one was won by the Canadians pretty convincingly 7-2. Canada will now take on Sweden in the gold medal game while Czech Republic will take on the United States for the bronze medal.

Michael McLeod had an assist on a Drake Batherson goal at 16:58 of the second period. That was the Canadians’ sixth goal of the evening. His stat line finished with the assist for a point, five shots on goal (which tied for the team lead along with Maxime Comtois and Dillon Dube) and an even rating in 12:58 of ice time.

So the medal round is now set and both games will be played tomorrow. Good luck to all four teams as they look to bring home a medal in the 2018 World Juniors.