With two assists, the USA’s Alex Galchenyuk was the game’s only multi-point player. Galchenyuk finishes the group stage with five points, which ties Adam Gaudette for the team lead.
“We’re feeling good,” said Gaudette. “The past couple of games we’ve been sharp, our game’s come together and tightened. It’s not always about who we’re playing, were always focused on our own game. Where we’re at right now, we’ve got a good anchor in net with Sway back there, our D playing well, our forwards are doing the right thing so I think we’re in a good spot.”
“I think we came out a bit sloppy we should have had some more of the puck at their net and been more effective,” said Norwegian forward Martin Ronnild. “I’m very proud. I think we had a good process throughout the tournament and we finished this game strongly.”
The USA outshot Norway 37-23. Jeremy Swayman played only the first period for the USA, stopping all nine shots he faced. Strauss Mann played the last period, stopping 12 of 14 shots. For Norway, Henrik Haukeland played the whole game and stopped 33 of 36 American shots.
As for the Norwegians, they knew this was their last game of the tournament – safe from relegation but with no shot at the quarter-finals. They could have moved up to sixth in the group with a win, but finish with five points, good for seventh in Group B and 13th overall.
“We played hard every game,” said Norway captain Mathis Olimb, who just finished his 14th World Championship. “We gave it our all this tournament but we didn’t get the luck that I think we deserved. Still, we won the games we needed to survive and that was good enough.”
Earlier in the tournament, Galchenyuk made highlight reels with a between-the-legs goal against Finland. On the USA’s opening goal against Norway, he assisted by making a between-the-legs pass to the far side of the net, where Ryan Hartman converted from a sharp angle.
“We got shut out last game and when you don’t score, your confidence gets down so it was good to score,” said Hartman, who was playing just his second game of the tournament. “We’re just trying to build momentum every game and this was good step.”
Galchenyuk assisted on the USA’s second goal as well by making a pass from his own zone to Matthew Boldy in the neutral zone. Crossing the blueline 1-on-2, the shifty Boldy got himself free and beat Haukeland with a shot under the glove.
On playing with Galchenyuk and Boldy, his Minnesota Wild teammate, Hartman said: “Me and Bolds, we’ve played together a couple of times. I played with Gal last year and they’re easy to play with, it’s not too hard to find chemistry.”
Norway got on the board early in the second period when Michael Haga found Andreas Martinsen with a breakaway pass. In alone, Martinsen went glove side on Mann, who had just entered the game.
Three minutes later, the Americans thought they had restored their two-goal lead, but the goal was called back when replays showed that Vinni Lettieri’s shot hit the skate of referee Jeff Ingram, who had got tangled up with players and was falling to the ice.
The USA did eventually go up 3-1, however. Rushing into the Norwegian zone, Ben Meyers worked a give-and-go with Luke Hughes and scored at 28:05.
Daniel Rokseth brought Norway back within a goal early in the third period when Kristian Jakobsson found him with a cross-crease pass for a backdoor one-timer.
There was still lots of time left and only a goal separating the teams, but the USA did a good job of preventing Norway from getting much offence, even on a power play when Lettieri was sent off for tripping. For the last several minutes, the Americans kept the puck at the other end of the ice as much as possible.
“The whole goal of the preliminary round is to give yourself a chance to compete for a medal and we did that,” said U.S. forward Austin Watson.” Real kudos to our group of guys. We had some guys step up and go back there and play some defence for us tonight and help those five D out. We preached ‘team first’ right from the get-go.”
After killing off a late penalty, Norway did get one final gasp on a 2-on-1 with two minutes remaining, but Mann made the save off Jakobsson.
Sean Ferrell it the empty Norwegian net from long range with 39.1 seconds left to round out the scoring.
The end of Norway’s tournament also meant the end of Petter Thoresen’s coaching career.
“He’s a legend in Norway, both as a player and as a coach,” said Olimb. “He’s done great things with the national team. I have only positive things to say.”