William Borgen (2015, fourth round) recorded one assist and a plus-2 rating Tuesday as the United States secured the bronze medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship with an 8-3 rout of Sweden.
2016 draft prospect Matthew Tkachuk led the way for the Americans with two goals and one assist. Anders Bjork (BOS) and Ryan Donato (BOS) chipped in with two goals each, while Nick Schmaltz (CHI) added three assists
Borgen, who comfortably served on the U.S.’s second defensive pair all tournament long while adding value as a key penalty killer, concludes his first international foray with three assists, six shots on goal and a plus-6 rating in seven appearances.
With Borgen turning 20 years of age next December, he will not be eligible for the 2017 event in Montreal and Toronto.
Neither club generated much in the way of scoring opportunities in the first half of the opening period, but the action soon picked up with both sides gaining quality looks at the net.
The game’s first goal came with 8:01 left in the period as Bjork capped off a strong shift for the Americans with a rebound put-back for his second goal of the tournament. Christian Dvorak (ARI), who scored the lone U.S. goal in Monday’s semifinal loss to Russia, drew the assist.
The U.S. connected again at 15:34, this time on the power play, as Tkachuk set up shop in front of the Swedish net and tipped a Zach Werenski (CBJ) shot past Felix Sandstrom (PHI) to make it a 2-0 game.
Sweden seemed to get a jolt of energy in the later stages of the period, and the subsequent work paid off with a pair of tallies of their own to tie the game at the first intermission.
First, University of Massachusetts defenseman William Lagesson (EDM) crashed the crease and cleaned up the rebound of an Adrian Kempe (LAK) net drive to halve Sweden’s deficit at 17:39.
Less than a minute later, 2016 draft prospect Carl Grundstrom barreled down the right side with his stick on the ice and finished off a pretty passing play to knot the score 2-2.
Team USA came out flying in the middle frame, using their speed and playmaking instincts to strike twice in the first 4:06 to regain the two-goal lead.
Borgen earned his third assist of the tournament just 2:17 in when his wrist shot from the point was deflected in front by Brock Boeser (VAN). It was the first goal of the tournament for the University of North Dakota forward, who leads all NCAA freshmen with 13 tallies.
Two Boston Bruins prospects connected next as Ryan Donato flashed to the net and redirected Brandon Carlo’s pass behind Sandstrom to put the U.S. ahead 4-2.
The Americans weren’t done, though, as they imposed their will for two more markers before the close of the period to head to the second intermission with a 6-2 lead.
After a series of fruitless U.S. power plays, Bjork snatched his second even-strength goal of the game at 16:31 with a high skill move to the inside. Sonny Milano (CBJ) fed Bjork a pass from the left-wing boards, and the Notre Dame sophomore did the rest by cutting to the net and quickly switching the puck to his forehand for a short-side goal over Sandstrom’s shoulder.
With 9.9 seconds second left in the period, Carlo concluded a 2-on-1 rush with a high snap shot from between the hash marks over Sandstrom’s glove. Schmaltz and Yale University winger Ryan Hitchcock were credited with the helpers.
Donato backhanded home his second goal of the game 3:38 into the third period when he capitalized on a sloppy play behind the Swedish net to give the Americans a 7-2 advantage.
Schmaltz sprung Tkachuk on a short breakaway for the stick-side finish at 11:12 to conclude the American scoring, but the Swedes weren’t done as Axel Holmstrom (DET) put one past Alex Nedeljkovic (CAR) with 1:32 left to make it an 8-3 final.
Nedeljkovic backstopped the U.S. with 35 saves. Sandstrom ended the night by stopping 31 of 39 American shots.
The Americans captured their first World Junior medal since 2013, when current Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe captained the team to gold.
Gold Medal Game: Finland vs. Russia
In an exciting championship contest, Kasperi Kapanen (TOR) scored the golden goal at 1:33 of overtime to propel host Finland to a 4-3 victory over Russia.
A first-period goal from Vladislav Kamenev (NSH) put Russia ahead 1-0 entering the final period of play, but Patrik Laine (2016) tied it for the Finns just 24 seconds in to set the table for a frenetic finish.
The Russians quickly regained the lead with an Andrei Svetlakov goal less than two minutes later. Again, Finland would battle back with a strike from Sebastian Aho (CAR) at 10:07. Laine and fellow 2016 draft prospect Jesse Puljujarvi were awarded the assists on the play.
Mikko Rantanen (COL) scored to give Finland their first lead of the game with 2:09 left in regulation, but the Russians would force extra time with a goal from Ivan Provorov (PHI) with just 6.9 seconds to play.
Kapanen sealed it in extra time with a wraparound goal past a sprawling Alexander Georgiev to give Finland its second World Junior title in the last three years. Current Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen put Sweden away with the overtime winner at the 2014 event.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects) for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.