Victoria, BC – With their fourth goal of the contest 2:33 into period three it appeared the game was easily in hand for Team Sweden in the preliminary round of Group B play in the World Junior Championships. Not so fast. St. Cloud State University Junior forward, Ryan Poehling, in his second year on the Team USA World Junior squad single-handedly forged an unlikely comeback for the USA scoring a “natural” hat trick in a span of 6:11 to tie the game at 4-4 and send it to overtime.
But first, let’s set things up. With a 3-0 lead entering period three it appeared the Swedes shut the door on Team USA with a goal 2:33 into the period by Erik Brannstrom. The captain and defenseman got through the USA defense and directed a backhander past USA goaltender Keyser for a comfortable 4-0 lead or so it appeared. However, a goal by USA’s captain and defenseman, Mikey Anderson 9:33 into the period gave the USA a glimmer of hope to at least narrow the goal differential. Poehling snared his first point of the contest with an assist on Anderson’s goal off a shot from the right dot. Poehling then went to work scoring his first goal with 6:35 remaining in regulation to narrow the lead to 4-2. Parked at the right post, Poehling redirected a pass from Oliver Wahlstrom past Sweden’s Ersson to cut the deficit to two goals. USA goaltender Keyser was pulled for an extra attacker with 2:26 remaining in the contest and Poehling netted his second goal with 37 seconds left in regulation to cut the Team Sweden lead to one goal. Once again, USA pulled Keyser with 33 seconds remaining and Poehling added another to complete his natural hat trick nine seconds later on a quick wrist shot from the right circle that beat Ersson high stick side for the unlikely comeback to tie the game at 4-4.
With the game forced into overtime, the Swedes finally captured the win 3:51 into the session on a goal by Adam Boqvist after some entertaining north/south hockey.
The loss placed Team USA one point behind Sweden in the standings with a 2-0-1 record. USA faces Finland in another Group B preliminary game on December 31st in Victoria.
Poehling was named the USA Player of the Game for his efforts vs Sweden. With his four-point game, Ryan Poehling is currently tied for the tournament lead in points with seven on 4 goals and 3 assists. He’s also +3 after three games.