Five Blackhawks prospects took part in critical preliminary-round games today at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships, as both Team USA and Team Sweden triedto secure a spot in the knockout stages of the tournament.
The Americans fell on late goals despite raining shots upon the opposition for the second game in a row, this time to the Czech Republic. Goaltender Petr Mrazek stymied the Americans' best efforts, making 52 saves on 54 shots. With Finland's 10-1 win over Denmark later in the evening, Team USA was eliminated from the competition and must secure their spot in next year's tourney by going through the relegation round.
Sweden, on the other hand, secured a comfortable 9-1 victory over Slovakia, with both Chicago prospects making an impact on the score. The Swedes remain comfortably in second place in Group A, and can take over the top spot with a New Years Eve victory over group leaders Russia.
TEAM USA (5-2 L vs. Czech Republic)
Adam Clendening, D: Clendening, playing with fellow Chicago draft pick Stephen Johns, took two shots on goal and ended the game with a -1 plus-minus rating.
Stephen Johns, D: Johns recorded identical stats as his defense partner, registering two shots on goal and a -1 rating.
Brandon Saad, LW: Head Coach Dean Blais reworked the forward lines after the team's 4-1 loss to Finland on Wednesday, and Saad and Charlie Coyle were joined on the top line by alternate captain and Ducks prospect Emerson Etem. With plenty of playing time in all man situations, Saad logged five shots, second most on the team.
TEAM SWEDEN (9-1 W vs. Slovakia)
Johan Mattsson, G: Did not play.
Joakim Nordstrom, C: Nordstrom got on the board for the third game in a row, scoring the seventh goal of the game for Sweden. He had three shots on goal and registered a +3 rating.
Ludvig Rensfeldt, LW: After assisting on Sweden's ninth and final goal of the game, Rensfeldt now has points in every game in the tournament. He was a +2 for the game.