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USA loses rematch to Swedes 4-1

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
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Rangers prospects Chris Kreider and Ryan Bourque suffered their first loss with Team USA on Friday afternoon at the USA National Junior Evaluation Camp at Lake Placid, N.Y., as the Americans fell 4-1 to a spirited Team Sweden squad.

The game, a rematch of the U.S. team's dominating 6-3 victory over the Swedes on Tuesday, was broken open in the early stages of the middle period, when the Swedes struck for three straight power-play goals from Anton Lander, Calle Jarnkrok, and William Wallen.

Ryan Bourque and Team USA will close out the Evaluation Camp schedule with a game against Finland on Saturday afternoon. The American World Junior candidates are 2-1 in Lake Placid.
Sweden finished the three-team, double-round-robin event with a 3-1 record. Team USA, now 2-1, will close out its four-game schedule against Finland on Saturday afternoon.

Team USA outshot the Swedes 28-23, but the Americans were frustrated by Ottawa Senators prospect Robin Lehner, who was very strong in net.

While it was a disappointing day for Kreider and Bourque, it was a big win for fellow Rangers prospect Jesper Fasth. The Blueshirts' 2010 sixh-round draft pick had an assist on his team's final goal, as the Swedes built up a 4-0 lead before the Americans averted the shutout on a Zach Budish tip-in with 8:16 left in the third period.

Fasth, who will play for HV-71 in Jonkoping, Sweden, this season, saw somewhat limited ice time as a winger on Sweden's fourth line, but he did get an opportunity to skate on the power play and finished the four games with a goal and an assist -- both recorded with a man-advantage.

His two points in Lake Placid should go a long way toward ensuring that Fasth will have a spot on the team Sweden sends to the 2011 World Junior Championship in Buffalo. At HSBC Arena in December and January, he will likely again run into Kreider and Bourque, returning members of the U.S. team that won gold at Saskatchewan last winter who are looking to nail down their roster spots at this camp.

Kreider, the Rangers' 2009 first-rounder who is entering his sophomore season at Boston College, had a strong game in defeat, as he showcased his speed for much of the afternoon and nearly picked up an assist on a second-period goal that was disallowed. On Wednesday, Kreider had registered his first goal of the Evaluation Camp in a 6-3 win over Finland.

Bourque, a 2009 third-round pick who spent last season with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, did not see as much ice time as Kreider, but did get a considerable workout on the penalty kill. Building on his success as a defensive forward in Saskatchewan, Bourque was on the ice for numerous key faceoffs and his absence from the penalty kill likely cost the U.S. its first goal.

Lander, the Swedish captain, got the second-period surge going just 20 seconds after Bourque was called for hooking. Left all alone to the right of U.S. goaltender and Boston Bruins prospect Zane Gothberg, Lander took a pass from Adam Almqvist and sent the puck high into a mostly empty net as Gothberg scrambled to get back into position at the 5:18 mark.

Only 34 seconds after the Lander goal, Team USA found itself in another hole when Stephen Johns was sent off for kneeing, and Sweden cashed in for a 2-0 lead. This time it was Jarnkrok rifling a left-wing shot past Gothberg after taking a feed from Sebastian Wannstrom at 5:52 of the second.

The Swedes made it 3-0 just over a minute after Kreider's linemate, Jeremy Morin, was called for high-sticking at 6:31 of the second. Wallen fired a slapper from the top of the right circle that blew by Gothberg for the 3-0 Swedish lead at the 7:33 mark.

Team USA continued to take penalties in the second period, as they were forced to kill off two more  -- a bench minor for having too many men on the ice at 11:15 and a holding penalty against Derek Forbort with 1:58 left in the period. The Americans managed to regroup and keep the Swedes from doing any further damage.

However, a third-period penalty added to Team USA's specialty-team woes. Sweden took advantage of an interference call against Nick Bjugstad to grab a 4-0 lead with just 17 seconds left in the power play. Fasth picked up the second assist assist on the power-play goal by Patrick Cehlin. Fasth also had a power play goal of his own in a win over Finland on Monday.

Jesper Fasth, a Rangers sixth-round draft pick, was a power-play specialist for Team Sweden inthe games at  Lake Placid, scoring both a goal on Monday and assist Friday with the man-advantage.
Midway through the opening period, the U.S. team failed to cash in on a four-minute high-sticking penalty to Oliver Ekman-Larsson, setting the tone for a long afternoon. Kreider generated some big scoring chances for Team USA in his first power-play shift. Skating on the second man-advantage unit with regular linemates Morin and San Jose Sharks first-rounder Charlie Coyle, Kreider was sprung for an open shot with about 45 seconds left in the first power play

Kreider's big shot went just wide, but only a few seconds later, he flew down the left wing with his tremendous speed to set up a 2-on-1 with Coyle. Kreider fed a perfect centering pass to Coyle, who fired just wide to the left of  Lehner.

Bourque also saw time on the four-minute power play, skating with linemates Bjugstad, a 2010 first-round pick of the Florida Panthers, and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Jerry D'Amigo. His line also applied good pressure, but could not solve Lehner, the Senators' 2009 second-round pick who will play major-junior hockey in the OHL this season.

After the Americans had fallen behind 3-0 in the second period, Kreider helped provide the offense that nearly led to the first U.S. goal. Skating on a U.S. power play with Ekman-Larsson again off for roughing at 8:03, Kreider broke in over the blue line and moved to the right boards, where he alertly fought off two defenders and sent a drop pass back to the defenseman at the right point, who fed a perfect cross-ice pass to Morin for a one-timer from the left circle.

Morin, a 2009 second-round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers, fired his shot past Lehner into the net, but the goal was waved off because Lehner had knocked the nets off its moorings while making the save.

Kreider saw his ice time steadily increase, as his line became the U.S. team's prime scoring threat over the final two periods. Kreider also showed his defensive skill during a U.S. penalty midway through the third, when he hustled back to break up a Swedish 2-on-1, denying the Swedes what appeared destined to be another goal.

Shortly after the power play expired, the Americans finally broke through for their only goal when Budish deflected a right-point shot by defenseman Patrick Wey between Lehner's pads at the 11:44 mark.
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