Before the ball dropped in New York City’s Times Square, the puck dropped in Alberta between two hockey powerhouses playing for big stakes. The United States and Sweden went toe-to-toe in the final game of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship preliminary round with quarterfinal positioning on the line.
The Americans opened the scoring just 1:09 into the game as Drew Helleson fired the puck toward the net from the corner and below the goal line. Just over two minutes later it was Trevor Zegras with the goal from a weird angle as he fired it on net from the left half board and the puck sailed over the shoulder of Hugo Alnefelt.
Team USA added two more goals in the second period, one by Ryan Johnson — his first of the tourney — off a beautiful set pay off a faceoff win deep in the Swedish zone and another by Alex Turcotte — also his first. That final goal chased Alnefelt from the net.