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World Juniors Prospect Update: Dec. 31

by Emerald Gao / Chicago Blackhawks

Continuing a trend that has developed through the preliminary rounds at the 2012 World Junior Championships, tonight's games came down to the tense final moments.

After being prematurely eliminated from the competition on Wednesday, Team USA played for pride against northern rivals Canada. However, the team gave up three first-period goals and fell 3-2 despite tallies by Charlie Coyle and captain Jason Zucker in the third frame.

Freddie Hamilton of Team Canada falls to the ice after being body checked by Stephen Johns Saturday's game (Photo by Getty Images).
Team Sweden also fell behind 3-0 in the first period of their game against Russia. Russian goaltender Andrei Vasilevski had not allowed a single goal in three games coming into tonight's matchup, but the Swedes poured on the pressure from the start of the game, sending 54 shots his way and finally breaking through to score a trey in the third frame. Blackhawks prospect Joakim Nordstrom potted the overtime winner to propel Sweden into first place in Group A and secure a spot in the semifinal round.

TEAM USA (3-2 L. vs. Canada)

Adam Clendening, D: After Team USA showed some defensive lapses in the first period, Head Coach Dean Blais reorganized his blue line and Clendening played most of the game with Kevin Gravel. Clendening took two shots on goal and ended up with a -1 plus-minus rating.

Stephen Johns, D: Johns was paired with Jacob Trouba from the second period on and saw plenty of ice time on the penalty kill. Johns had one shot on goal and an even rating.

Brandon Saad, LW: Personnel changes also affected Team USA's forward lines, and Saad played his even-strength minutes alongside grinders T.J. Tynan and Austin Watson while making his customary appearances on special teams. Saad ended the game with three shots on goal and an even rating.

TEAM SWEDEN (4-3 W (OT) vs. Russia)

Johan Mattsson, G:
Did not play.

Joakim Nordstrom, C: Nordstrom has emerged as a reliable two-way center for Sweden throughout the preliminary rounds. Tonight, at two critical junctures against Russia, he showed he could also be a clutch performer. First, he provided an assist on Max Friberg's game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation. Then, in overtime, Nordstrom sealed the victory for the Swedes when he tipped in defenseman Patrik Nemeth's shot. The play required a video review, but Nordstrom's goal -- and Sweden's remarkable comeback against Russia -- was confirmed.

Ludvig Rensfeldt, LW: Rensfeldt continued to show off his playmaking abilities throughout the game, but was ultimately held point-less for the first time in the tournament. He took three shots on goal and ended the night with an even plus-minus rating.
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