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Team USA takes home silver at U18 world championship, falls 6-4 to Sweden in final

After a standout performance at the U18 Men's World Championship, Sweden was too much for the U.S. in the final. Despite the loss, the Americans won their first medal at the tournament since 2019.

Team USA
Team USA players wait for their next shift at the IIHF 2022 Men's World Championship.
USA Hockey

LANDSHUT, Germany — After a dominant win against Czechia in the semifinals, Team USA had its sights set on gold at the 2022 IIHF U18 Men's World Championship. The U.S. had to settle for silver after a 6-4 loss to Sweden in the final on Sunday.

After not placing at the tournament last year, and with the cancellation of the event in 2020, Team USA picked up its first top three finish since winning bronze in 2019. Sweden has now won two of the last three U18 men's world titles and medaled in the last four tournaments.

Team USA looked sharp at the beginning of the championship game, with Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass / Boston College) scoring 2:24 into the game. The Swedes responded halfway into the first with two quick goals to take their first lead of the game, then the U.S. tied things up at two on a goal from Frank Nazar (Mt. Clemens, Mich. / Michigan) before the first intermission.

The second period brought penalty trouble for Team USA, with Sweden putting up two power play goals in the frame. Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Neb. / Michigan) scored late in the period to decrease the Swedish lead to one, but the second period ended with the Americans still trailing, 4-3.

The third period started off with plenty of opportunities for Team USA, including two consecutive power play chances, but they weren't able to capitalize on either. Sweden added an insurance goal, the eventual game-winner, just before the halfway point in the third to extend its lead to 5-3. McGroarty added his second of the night for the U.S., but it wasn't enough as Sweden added an empty-netter to seal the gold medal with a 6-4 victory.

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Sweden was the only country to put up more than three goals against the Americans in the entire tournament. Swedish goaltender Hugo Havelid played an outstanding game, stopping 47 of 51 shots he faced in net in net to help lead the Swedes to victory despite being outshot 51 to 15 by the U.S. in the final game.

Sunday's matchup between the U.S. and Sweden was the fourth time the two countries have met in a U18 men's championship game (2010-12) and was the first win for Sweden. The Swedes earned their second-ever tournament crown and second in the last three events. Team USA won the silver medal for the fifth time. Finland took home the bronze medal for the fifth time after defeating Czechia 4-1 on Sunday.

Sydney Wolf is a reporter for The Rink Live, primarily covering youth hockey. She joined the team in November of 2021 and graduated from St. Cloud State University with a B.S. in Mass Communications and a minor in Writing and Rhetoric Studies and was a part of the University Honors Program.
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