The 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship concludes with the championship and third-place game on Friday at Scandinavium in Gothenburg, Sweden.

On Tap

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Gold medal game

Sweden vs. United States (1:30 p.m. ET)

This one is going to be personal for Rutger McGroarty (Winnipeg Jets) and a few of his teammates when the United States plays Sweden in the gold medal game at Scandinavium.

The U.S. captain, along with forwards Cutter Gauthier (Philadelphia Flyers), Isaac Howard (Tampa Bay Lightning), Jimmy Snuggerud (St. Louis Blues), Frank Nazar III (Chicago Blackhawks) and Gavin Brindley (Columbus Blue Jackets), and defensemen Lane Hutson (Montreal Canadiens), Ryan Chesley (Washington Capitals) and Seamus Casey (New Jersey Devils) were each part of the U.S. team that outshot (52-15) but lost to Sweden (6-4) at the 2022 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Germany.

"I feel like we definitely have U-18 Worlds on our mind," McGroarty said. "I feel like ... I mean, I'm going to say it: We don't like those guys and they don't like us, so it's going to get real personal. It's going to get emotional, but we have to stay even-keel."

Gauthier said, "I remember that (loss) like it was yesterday. Those guys stripped the gold medal from our necks, and we're not happy at all. We still have that sour taste in our mouths and we're going to be ready to go. We're excited to play them."

The United States is 16-2-1-16 with two ties in 37 games against Sweden at World Juniors, including an 8-7 overtime win against Sweden in the bronze medal game at the 2023 WJC.

"I'm sure it'll be fun for you guys to watch," McGroarty said. "It'll be fun to play in. Anytime you play for a gold medal, whether it's U-18 Worlds, World Juniors, Olympics, you want that. I know the guys really want it, and we'll come to play."

Breaking down the 2024 World Junior Championships

The U.S. has outscored the opposition 39-13 in six straight wins and seeks a sixth gold medal and first since 2021. It has been led offensively by Gauthier (12 points; 10 assists), Brindley (nine points; six goals), Howard (seven points; five goals) and Snuggerud (seven points; five goals). Hutson has six assists and leads his country in average ice time (23:24).

Trey Augustine (Detroit Red Wings) is expected to start after making 19 saves in a 3-2 win against Finland in the semifinals Thursday. Augustine has won all three tournament starts with a 1.67 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.

Sweden will play its 14th gold-medal game at the World Juniors. It won the championship in 1981 and 2012. It has hosted the tournament six previous times and medaled in three of those events, taking home the silver twice (1993, 2014) and bronze once (1979).

It has outscored the opposition 25-8 in six tournament games, including a 5-4 shootout loss to Finland in the preliminary round.

Sweden has thrived defensively behind the play of Axel Sandin Pellikka (Red Wings; five points, two goals, 20:38 average ice time), Elias Pettersson (Vancouver Canucks; 20:29), Theo Lindstein (Blues; eight points, six assists, 19:50), Tom Willander (Canucks; 19:56) and Mattias Havelid (San Jose Sharks; five points, 17:13).

Offensively, Jonathan Lekkerimaki (Canucks; nine points, six goals) has a point in all six tournament games and enters with a three-game goal streak. Noah Ostlund (Buffalo Sabres; nine points, six assists), Felix Unger Sorum (Carolina Hurricanes; six points, five assists) and Otto Stenberg (Blues; eight points, four goals) have also contributed.

Sweden enters with the top-ranked power play (45 percent; 9-for-20); the U.S. owns the second-best penalty kill (85.7 percent; 12-for-14) in the tournament.

Expected starting Sweden goalie Hugo Havelid (2024 NHL Draft eligible), who made 47 saves in the gold medal game against the U.S. at the 2022 U-18 Worlds, has four wins with a 0.98 GAA, .952 save percentage and two shutouts in four games.

"Hugo's a good goalie and we're looking forward to playing him ... it'll be a lot of fun," McGroarty said.

Bronze medal game

Finland vs. Czechia (9 a.m. ET)

Finland had won three straight before a 3-2 loss to the U.S. in the semifinals. It has finished among the top three in three of the past five World Juniors (gold medal in 2019, silver in 2022, bronze in 2021).

The country has been led on offense by its captain, Jere Lassila (2024 draft eligible), who has seven points (three goals, four assists) in six games. Kasper Halttunen (Sharks) has six points (three goals), and the Finns have received steady play and big minutes from defensemen Kasper Kulonummi (Nashville Predators) and Otto Salin (Los Angeles Kings), who average 22:21 and 19:43 of ice time per game, respectively.

Goaltender Niklas Kokko (Seattle Kraken) made 27 saves in the loss to the U.S. in the semifinals. Noa Vali (2024 eligible) has one win, a 1.94 GAA and .926 save percentage in two games.

Czechia defeated Canada 3-2 in the quarterfinal round Tuesday and lost 5-2 to Sweden in the semifinals Thursday. It took home the silver medal following a 3-2 overtime loss to Canada in the 2023 WJC championship game, it's first top-three finish since taking home the bronze in 2005.

Czechia's offense is paced by its captain, Jiri Kulich (Buffalo Sabres), who has eight points (four goals) in six games. Matyas Melovsky (2024 NHL Draft eligible) has eight points (seven assists), Eduard Sale (Kraken) has six points (three goals), Dominik Rymon (2024 eligible) has six points (five assists), and defenseman Tomas Hamara (Ottawa Senators) has four points (three assists) while averaging a team-high 23:33 of ice time.

Goalie Michael Hrabal (Arizona Coyotes) has started every game for Czechia, winning three with a 3.14 GAA and .886 save percentage.

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