America happy, Sweden sour
America happy, Sweden sour
Six different scorers as U.S. stays perfect
Casey Mittelstadt, Kieffer Bellows, Ryan Lindgren, James Greenway, Keegan Howdeshell and Joey Anderson tallied for the Americans, who continue to get scoring throughout the lineup. Adam Fox, Logan Brown, and Clayton Keller chipped in two assists apiece.
Commenting on the key to America's firepower, defenceman Chad Krys said: "It helps when you can play sound defence and transition quickly."
So far, the defending champions have outscored their opponents 14-3 in Grand Forks. And they may already have faced their toughest tests of the preliminary round.
Looking ahead to the remaining games, Bellows said: "I just want to see us dominate. I want to see us play our USA hockey. We have a saying: ‘Go full 60 minutes, no regrets, no excuses.’ And that’s what we need to do."
Timothy Liljegren replied for Sweden. It was an underwhelming outing for the Swedes, who won the silver medal each year from 2010 to 2012, but looked overmatched here in terms of speed, strength, and skill.
Sweden now has just two U18 wins in 14 tries all-time against the Americans. The last one came in 2010.
Shots favoured Sweden 35-23, but this was a classic case of quality trumping quantity.
"It felt good just keeping things simple and playing our game out there," said Keller. "That’s what we need to do to compete and have a good tournament."
Coach Torgny Bendelin's squad looked good in the early going, firing six shots at U.S. goalie Joseph Woll before the Americans got one. Yet the trend wouldn't last.
Of Woll's solid play, Bellows said: "Once he makes a big save, it really gets the adrenalin going."
The U.S. opened the scoring at 17:51 with a delayed penalty coming up to Swedish captain Jacob Cederholm for crunching Kailer Yamamoto from behind in the Swedish zone. Yamamoto got the puck around the boards to Logan Brown and he moved it to Mittelstadt, who cut through the right faceoff circle and zinged one past Swedish starter Filip Larsson’s glove.
At 2:17 of the second period, Bellows got a breakaway and made no mistake, going high to the glove again for a 2-0 lead.
It was 3-0 just 1:41 later when the Americans completed a dazzling passing play. Graham McPhee did some nice stickhandling before centering the puck to Lindgren, and the American captain tipped it into the gaping cage.
Sweden called its timeout, but the game was already out of reach.
With 2:43 left in the second, Greenway scored arguably the prettiest goal of the tournament to date. After blocking a shot in his own zone, the U.S. blueliner headed up ice, received a blind pass from Keller, and, with a dirty dangle, scored on his backhand while skating backwards -- shorthanded.
"I saw him out of the corner of my eye over there and didn’t expect him to go down and score a goal like that," said Keller. "It was a pretty special goal."
In the third period, Howdeshell capitalized on a turnover at the Swedish blue line, swooped in off right wing, and zipped it past Larsson's right skate to make it 5-0 at 2:42.
The U.S. then took three straight minors, and Liljegren spoiled Woll's shutout bid with a power play marker at 10:32, firing a shot from the right faceoff circle that deflected up off Fox's stick and in. The goal was video-reviewed and ruled good.
Anderson restored the five-goal American lead with the man advantage, banging in a rebound at 12:03.
The U.S. faces winless Latvia on Sunday, while the Swedes battle Switzerland on Monday.
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