United States wins bronze medal at World Junior championships

The Americans erased the disappointment of losing to the Russians in the semifinals by overwhelming the Swedes 8-3 to capture the bronze medal at the World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

"We through every cliché we had at them," USA coach Ron Wilson told USA TODAY Sports by phone from Helsinki.  "One thing about this team is that they always responded."

It was USA's fourth medal since 2010 at the tournament that features the NHL's best prospects under-20.

Former NHL coach Wilson, 60, is one of the most accomplished coaches in American hockey history and he completed a coaching grand slam with the bronze. He had previously coached USA to a gold medal at the World Cup of Hockey in 1996, a bronze at the World Championships in 1996 and a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics.

"While this was going, I was telling myself, ‘Ron, why do you need this aggravation,'" joked Wilson. "But in the end it's always worth it. It ended relatively well for our group. The players are happy and that's all that really matters."

Power forward Matthew Tkachuk, the son of former NHL player Keith Tkachuk, contributed two goals and an assist for the Americans who lost 1-0 to Sweden earlier in the tournament.

"The goals he scored (against Sweden) were just like goals his dad would score," Wilson said. "I coached his dad to a medal and I get to see Matt get a medal.  Those are the special moments you have in the game.

Tkachuk finished with 11 points in seven games in the WJC.  He's expected to be picked in the first five picks of the June NHL draft. His dad was the 19th pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 1990. Keith also was a member of a bronze medal team at the WJC in 1992.

Anders Bjork and Ryan Donato, both Boston Bruins prospects, scored two goals apiece for the Americans. Another Boston draft pick, defenseman Brandon Carlo, also scored.   Carlo turned plenty of heads with his strong performance in the tournament.

"He's a lot faster than you think," Wilson said. "On that goal, he was trailing on the play. The next thing you know he's leading a 2-on-1 break. He got a great pass and he buried it high. Our guys knew what to do when they had opportunities (against Sweden)."

Vancouver Canucks' first-round pick Brock Boeser also scored for USA.

Auston Matthews, who had seven goals in the tournament, didn't score against the Swedes, leaving him one goal shy of tying Jeremy Roenick's USA record of eight goals in a single tournament. He projects to be the No. 1 pick in the June NHL draft.

 


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