In a game that stayed surprisingly close through the first forty-odd minutes of play, the powerhouse Americans beat Denmark 4-1. Austin Matthews, Sonny Milano, Anders Bjork, and Colin White all netted goals for the Americans, who clinched 2nd-place in Group A and a date with one of Finland and the Czech Republic. Matias Lassen has the lone goal for overmatched Denmark.
As one would expect with the large gulf in talent, the Americans took the play to the Danes often; Thursday night’s shot tally finished 44-17 in favour of the USA, and Denmark goaltender Mathias Seldrup was the sole reason the game didn’t turn into a complete embarrassment.
The Danes shocked everybody by grabbing a first period late in much the same fashion they did against Canada three days ago. Capitalizing on a defensive-zone turnover by the Americans, Denmark pounced, as Linkopings forward Matias Lassen beat US goaltender Brendan Halverson from close range at 10:14 of the first period.
Odds-on first overall pick in next summer’s NHL Entry Draft Auston Matthews drew the Americans level at 17:04, one-timing a Colin White feed from below the goal line past Seldrup.
Sonny Milano, already a contributing pro with AHL Lake Erie, then put the US up just four minutes into the second period on a scrappy goal. Pouncing on a loose puck in the Danish crease, Milano jammed it under a number of sprawled Danes and in for his first of the tournament.
Anders Bjork and Colin White added insurance goals less than two minutes apart in the third period to solidify the three points for the US, though they were never truly in doubt against a Denmark team that was out of its depth.
With the win, the high-octane American team finished Group A pool play with a record of 3-0-0-1 – good for a second-place finish – and will face one of Finland or the Czech Republic on January 2nd. Make no mistake: the USA is here to win gold, and has every chance of doing so.
The Danes – considered relegation fodder at the beginning of this year’s tournament – will be thrilled with a fourth-place finish in Group A and the consequent, if somewhat unexpected, quarterfinal game against Valeri Bragin’s Russians on January 2nd. To say that Olaf Eller’s team will be ‘up against it’ facing the Russians in an elimination game is an understatement, but getting to the knockout round and maintaining first-division status for the third consecutive year is a testament to the development of Danish hockey.