BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The United States is intent on making a habit of podium finishes at the world junior hockey championship, and they showed that by rallying to win bronze after the stinging disappointment of a semifinal loss to Canada.
Playing with a tenacity and determination they lacked their last time out, the pre-tournament favourites beat a determined Sweden squad 4-2 Wednesday to claim medals in consecutive years at the event for the first time.
Bronze isn't the colour the Americans wanted after beating Canada for gold last year in Saskatoon, but they managed to salvage some pride and ensure they didn't leave a competition they hosted empty-handed.
"It's important to us personally, we played for pride, we played for each other," said Chris Kreider, the New York Rangers first-round pick who scored twice. "But it's important for USA Hockey as well, to show that we can compete year after year and not just occasionally win a medal, but to be in contention every year."
Drew Shore scored the go-ahead goal 52 seconds into the third period, Nick Bjugstad made it 3-1 at 12:40. After Jesper Fasth's goal at 14:18 set up a tight finish, Kreider put it away after with 1:53 left, firing a shot top corner past Fredrik Petersson Wentzel.
Jack Campbell made 34 saves for the Americans, who now have two gold, a silver and four bronze medals at the world junior championships.
"I'm not going to lie, that heartbreaking loss to Canada was tough," said Campbell, drafted 11th overall by Dallas. "The guys knew they had a lot more in the tank so we just played our hearts out, and to finish the tournament on such a high against such a great team like Sweden is huge."
Forward Chris Brown, a second-round pick of Phoenix, said there was no shame in bronze.
"Take a look at it, it looks pretty nice to me," he said, lifting the medal from his jersey and flashing it to media. "It's a medal, it's hardware, you get to take it home and you get to show it off. There's only three teams that get to wear these.
"It's something I'm going to take with me and show my kids one day."
Oscar Lindberg also scored and Petersson Wentzel stopped 40 shots for the Swedes, who failed to reach the podium after following back-to-back silvers with bronze last year. They lost both games after beating Canada 6-5 in a shootout to secure top spot in their group.
"It's tough, it sucks," said captain Anton Lander. "When we won the group we felt we had a good chance to come high in the tournament."
It was a chippy affair with plenty of after-whistle scrums at an HSBC Arena marked by Canadian red but with a strong American presence. At one point a "Canada, Canada" chant was easily drowned out by cries of "USA, USA," with small pockets of "Sweden" shouts.
-- The Canadian Press