Less than 24 hours after their dreams of winning the 2016 World Junior Championship gold medal died, the United States rebounded nicely to claim bronze with an 8-3 win over Sweden on Tuesday.
Matthew Tkachuk and Nick Schmaltz led the way for the Americans with three points apiece. Goalie Alex Nedeljkovic finished with 35 saves and his fourth win of the tournament. It's the fifth bronze medal for the U.S. in the tournament's history, their first since 2011 and their first medal of any kind since they won gold in 2013.
Sweden failed to medal for the second straight year.
The Americans broke open the scoring when Anders Bjork put his team up 1-0 off a pass from Christian Dvorak midway through the first period. Sweden dug their hole deeper by taking a hooking penalty, leading to a goal from Tkachuk as the resulting power play ended. But goals from Sweden's William Lagesson and Carl Grundstrom left the score tied at 2-2 at the first intermission.
It didn't take long for the United States to separate itself once again. Tkachuk earned another point by assisting on a Brock Boeser goal just two minutes into the second period. Brandon Carlo and Ryan Donato combined to score just two minutes later to put the USA up, 4-2.
That's when frustration set in for Sweden. They took and killed two back-to-back penalties, but then gave up goals to Bjork and Carlo at the end of the frame to fall behind, 6-2.
With the game out of reach as the third period began, the Swedes looked lifeless as Donato scored again to extend the lead. Sweden got a chance at redemption with a 5-on-3 power play midway through the third, but nothing came of it and Tkachuk made it an 8-2 game with his second goal of the game with eight minutes left. Axel Holmstrom narrowed the deficit with a goal for Sweden with two minutes remaining, but it wasn't nearly enough.