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JOHNSON PROPELS TEAM USA TO QUARTERFINALS

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
LEKSAND, Sweden -- Defenseman Jack Johnson's (Ann Arbor, Mich./University of Michigan) power play blast from the side of the left circle propelled the United States to a 3-2 overtime victory over Sweden today in preliminary-round play at the 31st annual International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.


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USA 5 – SUI 2
GER 2 – USA 1 OT
CAN 6 – USA 3
USA 6 –SVK 1

The win vaulted the United States into Tuesday's (Jan. 2) quarterfinal round where Team USA will face Finland at 7:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m. EST) at the FM Mattsson Arena in Mora, Sweden.

"Obviously, that was a very big win for our hockey team," said U.S. Head Coach Ron Rolston (Fenton, Mich.). "We didn't get the start we wanted to, but we showed a lot of character and got better as the game wore one."

Team USA started the night knowing that it needed a win to advance to the quarterfinal round.

While the first period was scoreless, both teams had solid scoring chances. Team USA finished with 11 shots on goal in the first period, however, its first shot was a shorthanded effort from the high slot by Justin Albdekader (Muskegon, Mich./Michigan State University) nearly eight minutes in. Sweden had 12 shots on goal in the stanza but could not solve U.S. netminder Jeff Frazee (Edina, Minn./University of Minnesota).

Sweden took a 1-0 lead at 7:16 of the second period in shorthanded fashion as Andreas Turesson put home the rebound of Martin Johansson's initial shot. Team USA rallied with two goals in a 1:35 span in the back half of the period to stake a 2-1 advantage at 40 minutes. Kyle Okposo (St. Paul, Minn./University of Minnesota) intercepted a Swedish pass behind the net and fed Patrick Kane (Buffalo, N.Y./London) in front for Kane's third goal in two games. Then Ryan Stoa (Bloomington, Minn./University of Minnesota) banged home the second rebound in tight at 13:25 following Peter Mueller's (Bloomington, Minn./Everett) initial shot from the left circle and Nathan Gerbe's (Oxford, Mich./Boston College) rebound attempt.

The U.S. looked like it would win the game in regulation, however, with :14 left in regulation and Sweden netminder Joel Gistedt pulled in favor of an extra attacker, Fredrik Pettersson got the puck by Frazee to tie the game.

That set the stage for Jack Johnson, who scored his second game-winning goal in as many days. Erik Johnson (Bloomington, Minn./University of Minnesota) and Jack Skille (Madison, Wis./University of Wisconsin) drew assists on the four-on-three overtime goal.

Frazee finished with 28 saves, while Gistedt had 31 stops for Sweden.

Tuesday's (Jan. 2) quarterfinal game can be heard live on usahockey.com with Jim Rich and Jeff Sauer. There is no U.S. television coverage.

NOTES: A special hour-long show previewing Team USA's stretch run at the 2007 IIHF World Junior Championship will air live on USAHockey.com at 1 p.m. (EST) tomorrow. Head Coach Ron Rolston, Assistant Coaches Nate Leaman, Phil Housley and John Harrington as well as several members of Team USA will join Jim Rich and Jeff Sauer during the broadcast ... The 2007 IIHF World Junior Championship features athletes under the age of 20 on international teams including the United States, Belarus, Canada, Germany, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland ... The U.S. National Junior Team is coming off a fourth-place finish at the 2006 World Junior Championship in Vancouver, British Columbia ... Eight members of the U.S. National Junior Team are returning from last year's team, including Taylor Chorney (Hastings, Minn./University of North Dakota), Jeff Frazee (Burnsville, Minn./University of Minnesota), Nate Gerbe (Oxford, Mich./Boston College), Erik Johnson (Bloomington, Minn./University of Minnesota), Jack Johnson (Ann Arbor, Mich./University of Michigan), Brian Lee (Moorhead, Minn./University of North Dakota), Peter Mueller (Bloomington, Minn./Everett) and Jack Skille (Madison, Wis./University of Wisconsin).
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