The U.S. National Junior Team will meet a familiar foe today when it takes on Sweden in the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship gold-medal game. One of the budding rivalries in international hockey at the U20 level and below, USA-Sweden has become can’t miss hockey. You can watch the game on NHL Network or via live stream on NHL.com at 8 a.m. ET in the United States. The game will also air live on TSN in Canada.
As expected, Phil Housley has kept together the lineup from the last two games. Team USA has outscored its last two opponents by a 12-1 margin and seems to have found the right mix of offensive prowess and defensive stinginess to match John Gibson’s stellar play in net.
Team USA will need a lot from both its scorers and defensemen today as Sweden offers a unique mix of speed and skill unlike the U.S. has seen in this tournament yet. The Swedes also have a gold medal to defend this year and with the tournament headed to Malmo in 2014 they’d love to head home on a streak.
The U.S. better be ready for Sweden’s very best.
Coming up after the jump, a look at Team USA’s full lineup for the gold-medal game with notes on each combo.
15 Alex Galchenyuk – 7 Sean Kuraly – 16 Riley Barber
This line has received very protected minutes throughout the tournament, but has been productive enough to make those minutes count. With a little less defensive ability among this group, there’s likely to be some caution with how this trio is used against a Swedish team with scoring depth. That said, this line, led by Alex Galchenyuk’s eight points can be so deadly and it will need to be today. Held off the scoresheet against Canada, these guys will be hungry to contribute.
13 Johnny Gaudreau – 10 J.T. Miller – 26 Jim Vesey
Another huge effort from this line against Canada solidified it as Team USA’s best scoring option. Johnny Gaudreau has seven goals in the last three games and this trio is really clicking. Vesey has been a revelation in the latter half of the tournament and seems to have gotten better with each game. He could be up for another big game today. J.T. Miller also has come back from a slow start to the tournament to really help spark the offense. This group should see a lot of ice and will need to probably bury a few more before all is said and done.
20 Blake Pietila – 18 Cole Bardreau – 21 Ryan Hartman
This line has received all of Team USA’s most important checking assignments and has made sure to bring some offense with them as well. With Sweden’s depth and also having the last line change, this group will probably see shifts against any line, but will have an added focus on the trio of Sebastian Collberg, Emil Molin and Elias Lindholm. That’s been Sweden’s best line and is its most deadly of four deadly lines. Big night for the Grind Line.
23 Rocco Grimaldi – 25 Vince Trocheck – 22 Tyler Biggs
This line has been rather quiet on the score sheet all tournament, but has scoring potential. It will need to be a defensively responsible group with Sweden’s ability to get up ice quickly. A strong forecheck will also be important and this group, led by Tyler Biggs in that department, is more than capable of applying pressure. Grimaldi’s speed, Trocheck’s good all-around game and Biggs’ braun should all factor into today’s game in one way or another.
12 Mario Lucia
Lucia hasn’t seen the ice much in the last two games and while that likely won’t change, he gives Housley a good scoring option down the bench.
19 Jake McCabe – 3 Seth Jones
These guys are going to play a lot. Since joining together after the first period in the first Canada game, they’ve been Team USA’s most dependable pairing. They’ve been getting the job done at both ends of the ice and each lead Team USA with a plus-7 rating. This will be Jones’ third gold-medal game against Sweden in three years, having played in the 2011 and 2012 World U18s. They’ll need as good a game as they’ve had against Sweden.
27 Patrick Sieloff – 8 Jacob Trouba
These guys bring muscle and good defensive mentalities. The game may not be as physical, but Sweden’s ability to get guys down ice quickly is going to put these guys to the test. Keeping everyone in front of them is something this pair does really well, so that will have to continue. This is also Trouba’s third gold-medal game against Sweden in the last three years. He’s been excellent in the first two and has been this tournament’s most consistent defenseman for any team. He could seal up the directorate award with a good performance early today.
6 Mike Reilly – 5 Connor Murphy
This pair might find their time dwindle a bit more today, but not by much. With Murphy’s dependable defensive game and Reilly showing offensive spark, it could end up being a very important duo for Team USA early in the game. Murphy seems to have Sweden’s number, too. He’s scored OT GWGs against Sweden in the Ivan Hlinka and World Under-18 Championship. He even scored in the pre-tournament game, so he’s one to watch today.
14 Shayne Gostisbehere
He should see more than a few shifts up with Jacob Trouba earlier in the game to help spark the offense a bit. Gostisbehere had good, effective offensive shifts against Canada while slotting into this role and adds a little more versatility to the way the defense can be used. His good speed could come in handy against a very quick Swedish attack.
35 John Gibson
30 Jon Gillies
John Gibson has been the tournament’s best goaltender and may face the most skilled group of forwards he’s seen yet in the tournament (yes, including Canada). He should see some quality shots. If the previous two games are any indication, he’s as locked in as ever and could be the difference once again in this tournament. I think he’ll be the directorate winner regardless of result and maybe the tournament MVP, but he’ll prefer gold. Gibson needs his best stuff today.
Official IIHF Lineup for today’s game.
Come back after the gold-medal game for a complete recap with notes on every player. Also, follow along on Twitter for live in-game analysis. Hope you enjoy what should be a classic gold-medal match-up.