The ninth day of World Juniors held different stakes for the six Blackhawks prospects on Team USA and Team Sweden.
In the relegation round, Team USA played against one of the competition’s weaker sides, trouncing Latvia 12-2. Nashville draft pick Austin Watson and Florida Panthers prospect Nick Bjugstad both registered hat tricks, while Brandon Saad, Adam Clendening and Stephen Johns put in solid performances, each registering at least a point in the rout.
Later, in a battle of Nordic powerhouses, Team Sweden faced Finland in the tournament semifinals, where Chicago draft picks Joakim Nordstrom and Ludvig Rensfeldt looked to continue their high level of play. Though both were held without a point – Nordstrom for the first time in five games – the Swedes once again staged a dramatic comeback, recovering from a two-goal deficit entering the final frame and winning 3-2 in a shootout.
TEAM USA (W 12-2 vs. Latvia)
Adam Clendening, D: Clendening was paired with Kevin Gravel on the blueline and continued to quarterback the first power play unit. Clendening assisted on J.T. Miller’s PP goal in the second period and added a tally of his own later in the frame. He finished the game with two shots on goal and a +1 plus-minus rating.
Stephen Johns, D: Johns played alongside Jacob Trouba, the youngest skater for the Americans, and registered an assist on Nick Bjugstad’s second goal of the game. He finished the game with three SOG and a +1 rating.
Brandon Saad, LW: Saad played arguably his finest game of the tournament while playing on Team USA’s most productive forward line, with Austin Watson and Nick Bjugstad. Saad delivered assists on captain Jason Zucker’s shorthanded tally, two of Bjugstad’s three goals, including one on the power play, and Clendening’s goal in the second period. He took two shots on goal and led all American skaters with a +6 rating at the conclusion of the game.
TEAM SWEDEN (W 3-2 (SO) vs. Finland)
Johan Mattsson, G: Did not play.
Joakim Nordstrom, C: Nordstrom was unable to make it five straight games with a goal, but the pivot often found himself matched up against one of Finland's two formidable scoring lines. Nordstrom took two shots on goal and had a -1 rating.
Ludvig Rensfeldt, LW: Rensfeldt matched his linemate's stats, registering two shots and a -1 rating.
Sweden will face Russia in the gold medal game tomorrow evening, while Team USA plays Switzerland this afternoon in their last match of the tournament.