POPRAD, SLOVAKIA - APRIL 22: USAâ€™s Sean Dhooghe #24 celebrates with teammates after scoring the overtime winning goal against Sweden to win 4-3 in overtime during semifinal round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Andrea Cardin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Dhooghe scores in OT for 4-3 win over Sweden
The Americans will be trying to win their seventh gold at the U18 in the last nine years after beating Sweden for the 13th time in 15 all-time meetings.
At 5'3" (160cm) diminutive Sean Dhooghe might be the smallest player in the tournament, but tonight he scored the biggest goal of the week for his Team USA.
"Sean’s been solid," coach John Wroblewski said in under-statement. "He’s gone out and done his job for sure, like everybody else on the team. Everybody’s doing their job and Sean’s job is to create energy and he’s been the beneficiary of some good bounces. Hopefully that continues tomorrow night."
Dhooghe capitalized on a turnover in the Sweden end when Filip Westerlund fell while trying to carry the puck out. Dhooghe collected the loose puck, went in alone, and snuck the puck through the pads of Adam Ahman with only 21 seconds left in the overtime.
"I was so excited," the hero of the night said. "I didn’t know what to feel. It’s not like anything I’ve felt before."
Moments earlier, Ahman had made a sensational blocker save off Dhooghe to keep the Swedes alive.
Sweden will now face Russia in the early game tomorrow for the bronze medal.
"I feel really sorry for the guys right now because they played an excellent game and we played right with the U.S. team the whole game," said Swedish coach Torgny Bendelin. "We had chances to win, too. That’s hockey, but it’s really tough to lose that way."
The U.S. got off on the right foot, scoring the opening goal at 10:28 of the first. Tom Miller drove down the wing and passed to Dhooghe. Dhooghe was checked but the loose puck landed on Michael Pastujov's stick, and he popped it in.
"Right at the start we were trying to play in their zone and just surround the net and get pucks to the net," Pastujov said, "and luckily I was at the tail end to bang one in. Basically, at the beginning of the game we were just trying to tire them, and I think we did a good job doing that."
The Swedes got the equalizer just 39 seconds into the second, also off the rush. Jacob Olofsson passed in front to Emil Bemstrom, and his shot was stopped by Dylan St. Cyr. At the same time, Olofsson circled the goal and got to the rebound, backhanding the puck into the open side.
Six minutes later, the U.S. regained the lead on a great set play with the extra man. Quinton Hughes, at the point, passed to Grant Mismash, who was in the middle of the Swedish box, facing Hughes. He no-looked a pass to the side to Max Gildon, and he wired a shot past Ahman.
Resilient Sweden tied the game again, though, at 4:11 of the third on a power play. A point shot was blocked and the puck came to Fabian Zetterlund almost on the icing line. His quick shot somehow squirted through the paraphernalia of St. Cry, making it 2-2.
Two and a half minutes later, the Swedes took the lead after causing a turnover inside the U.S. blue line. Marcus Sylvegard fell after getting the puck, got up, and wired a long shot past St. Cyr's glove. It was one that the goalie might have felt was stoppable.
Sixty-four seconds later, the game was tied again, this time because of a Sweden turnover in its own end. Hughes took a quick shot through the pads of Ahman as he was sliding across the crease. He, too, might have saved that on a second try.