Sean Farrell celebrates scoring a goal with teammates at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 10, 2022 in Beijing.
There wasn’t anything the U.S. men’s hockey team could do Tuesday to improve its standing heading into the playoff round at the 2022 IIHF Men’s World Championship, its fourth-place finish in Group B assured and its quarterfinal opponent Switzerland locked in prior to Team USA’s final preliminary round game with Norway.
But in the interest of momentum, the U.S. went out and knocked off the Norwegians 4-2 with some contributions from some newcomers. Minnesota Wild forwards Matt Boldy and Ryan Hartman just joined the team ahead of its previous game against Czechia, a 1-0 loss, and both scored in the opening period Tuesday. Colorado Avalanche forward Ben Meyers — who this year has played at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, the NCAA Frozen Four with the University of Minnesota, made his NHL debut and now is at the world championships — scored the game-winner in the second period. Montreal Canadiens prospect Sean Farrell, also a 2022 Olympian, added an empty netter.
The U.S. finished preliminary round play 3-2-0-2 for 13 points. Heading into the quarters with momentum as well as an influx of NHL talent should pay dividends for Team USA, which thus far in the tournament has featured a balanced scoring attack. Adam Gaudette and Kieffer Bellows share the team lead with three goals and 13 players have scored at least once. Where the U.S. has really shined is in between the pipes; Jeremy Swayman stopped all nine shots he faced in 20 minutes of action against Norway and is now second in the tournament with a .953 save percentage. Swayman and Strauss Mann allowed one goal or fewer in four of their preliminary round games.
Up next are the Swiss, winners of Group A without a single loss. They boast the tournament’s top scorer in forward Denis Malgin and allowed just 15 goals in seven games. The game is set for Thursday.
This is the 11th tournament in a row in which Team USA has qualified for the playoff round. In that span has come four bronze medals, including last year. The U.S. is seeking its first gold medal at the world championships since 1933.