The medal round lived up to everything it should have in the 2018 IIHF World Championships. The US won bronze over Canada following a third period scoring outburst and the Swedes successfully defended their gold medal by beating the Swiss in a game that went to a shootout to decide a winner.
First, the bronze medal game. The Americans took on Canada and came away with the third place finish, winning 4-1.
Following a scoreless first, the US got on the board first with a power play goal 6:40 into the second period. Joel Edmundson went off for roughing at the 5:14 mark, almost immediately after Canada’s Ryan Murray had come out of the box following a cross checking minor. Chris Kreider scored for the Americans off assists to Dylan Larkin and Alex Debrincat. It was 1-0 US.
But Canada would get the equalizer with just under two minutes remaining in the second. Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored from Bo Horvat and Kyle Turris. It was now 1-1 going into the third and it seemed as if we had a real game on our hands.
But the final frame would belong to the Americans and it was again a lack of discipline by the Canadians that would make it so. The game was still tied when at 12:29, Ryan O’Reilly took an interference call. On the ensuing American power play, Nick Bonino scored from Patrick Kane to break the stalemate and put the US up 2-1. That would prove to be the game winner.
Canada pulled goaltender Curtis McElhinney for the extra attacker at 16:58 and Anders Lee scored into the empty net from Charlie McAvoy at 17:45. It was 3-1 USA with time running out for the Canadians.
McElhinney was pulled again at the 17:55 mark and again the US scored into the vacated cage. This time Kreider notched his second of the game unassisted at 18:18. That made it 4-1 and that was your final. The US claimed bronze in the tournament, winning a medal following a great start. Canada finishes fourth.
Keith Kinkaid made 24 saves on 25 Canadian shots in the winning effort while McElhinney stopped 33 of 37 American shots.
Will Butcher had four shots on goal and was an even plus/minus in 19:39 of time on ice over 29 shifts. Blake Coleman was an even plus/minus in 11:49 over 21 shifts. Brian Gibbons did not dress for the game.
Meanwhile, the later game at Copenhagen’s Royal Arena was to decide the first and second place finishers. It was underdog Switzerland versus the undefeated Team Sweden. It was a tall order for the Swiss, but one that they would be up to.
The Swiss got on the board first when Nino Niederreiter scored at the 16:38 mark of the first period. He got assists from Roman Josi and Kevin Fiala.
But that lead would last less than a minute, as at the 17:54 mark of the first, Gustav Nyquist scored from Mattias Ekholm to knot things up at one going into the first intermission.
But Nyquist would play a role in the Swiss retaking the lead. Just 1:23 into the second frame, he took a two minute high sticking penalty and Timo Meier scored from Enzo Corvi and Josi on the resulting power play. That goal came at 3:13 and gave the Swiss the 2-1 lead.
But Sweden would return the favor on their own power play late in the second. At 13:56, Corvi took a holding penalty and Mika Zibanejad made Switzerland pay. He scored from Oliver Ekman-Larsson to tie things at two. And that was it for the scoring in regulation and overtime.
Switzerland and Sweden played through 20 minutes of the third with no more scoring and five minutes of the OT period with no one breaking the stalemate. And so it would take a shootout to decide who got gold and who got silver.
Sven Andrighetto kicked things off by scoring on Swedish goaltender Anders Nilsson to give the Swiss the lead in the shootout. Zibanejad then missed his shot and Kevin Fiala was topped by Nilsson. Swiss goalie Leonardo Genoni stopped Rickard Rakell on Sweden’s next attempt. Corvi was stopped on his try and then Sweden would finally get one through. Ekman-Larsson beat Genoni on his try to tie up the shootout. Gaetan Haas missed his try and Filip Forsberg converted on his to put Sweden ahead. Swiss survival was on the stick of the game’s first goal scorer, Niederreiter. But Nilsson stopped him and the Swedes claimed gold.
Sweden won 3-2 and the Swiss took home the silver. Genoni made 35 saves on 38 Swedish shots while Nilsson stopped 25 of 27 Swiss shots on net.
Mirco Mueller had two shots on goal and was a minus-1 in 28:58 of ice time over 41 shifts.
Congratulations to all of the teams, and in particular, the Swiss. They played extremely well in this tournament. They definitely showed that they belonged and made some upsets along the way. We will see you here back tomorrow as we cover the Swift Current Broncos and the Hamilton Bulldogs in the Memorial Cup round robin tournament.