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WJC 2016: Werenski, Milano win bronze with Team USA

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Forwards Anders Bjork, Ryan Donato and Matthew Tkachuk each scored two goals to help lead the United States to an 8-3 victory against Sweden in the bronze-medal game of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland, on Tuesday.

Bjork and Donato are selections of the Boston Bruins in the 2014 NHL Draft, and Tkachuk is an A-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's November players to watch list for the 2016 draft.

Host Finland won gold by defeating Russia 4-3 in overtime. Russia defeated the United States and Finland defeated Sweden in the semifinals Monday, each by 2-1 scores.

The United States won its ninth medal in the history of the tournament, and fifth bronze. The Americans also defeated Sweden 4-2 in 2011 and 2-1 in 2007 to win the bronze medal.

Donato was a second-round selection (No. 56) by the Bruins, and Bjork a fifth-round choice (No. 146). Brock Boeser (Vancouver Canucks) and Brandon Carlo (Boston Bruins) also scored for the United States. Tkachuk finished tied for the team lead with 11 points (four goals, seven assists).

United States goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes) made 35 saves and finished the tournament with a 1.66 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in six games.

"This means a lot because this game was all about playing for pride and playing for yourself and your team and trying to come away with something," Nedeljkovic told NHL Network. "Obviously everybody wants the gold medal, but coming away with a bronze is better than going home with nothing."

Bjork scored at 11:59 and Tkachuk at 15:32 of the first period before Sweden pulled even on goals by William Lagesson (Edmonton Oilers) at 17:39 and Carl Grundstrom, an A-rated skater on Central Scouting's November list, 55 seconds later.

Boeser scored the first of four goals in the second period at 2:17 to give the United States a 3-2 lead. Sweden left wing Alexander Nylander, an A-rated skater on Central Scouting's November players to watch list, had a goal disallowed at 6:28 because of a high stick with the United States holding a 4-2 lead.

The United States avenged a 1-0 loss to Sweden in the preliminary round on Dec. 28. In that game, Sweden goaltender Linus Soderstrom (New York Islanders) made 46 saves. In a surprise move, Sweden coach Rikard Gronborg decided to start Felix Sandstrom (Philadelphia Flyers) in the bronze-medal game. Sandstrom made 21 saves on 29 shots.

United States center Auston Matthews, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, came one goal short of equaling Jeremy Roenick for most goals by a United States player in a WJC event. Roenick had eight goals at the 1989 WJC when the United States finished fifth.

"I think the way we conducted ourselves after the loss (to Russia in the semifinal round) really shows the team we have," Matthews said. "Putting that loss behind us and preparing for this game and the way we played it was nice to see."

The United States has 15 wins, including nine of the past 10 games, and 15 losses against Sweden at the WJC. The teams have tied twice.

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