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Nate Thompson and Matt Carle Help Team USA Claim Bronze Medal at the World Championships

May 20th, 2013 at 12:34 PM
By Kyle Alexander Abney

Team USA beat host country Finland for the second time in the 2013 IIHF World Championships, this time 3-2 in a shootout to claim the bronze medal, the first medal for Team USA in this tournament since 2004.

Nate Thompson and Matt Carle were quiet, but effective in this one as coach Joe Sacco continued to use both effectively in a defensive, shut-down role.

The other member of the Tampa Bay Lightning on the roster — goaltender Ben Bishop — sat on the bench again as 19-year old goaltender John Gibson started his fourth straight game for Team USA after Bishop took a 5-3 loss to Russia during the preliminary round.

Bucking a trend of slow starts on the big ice, the Americans had probably their best start in this tournament. The top line of Paul Stastny, Craig Smith and David Moss jumped on Finland early, getting the puck in deep and working it to Smith in front who buried his fourth of the tournament (all against Finland) to give USA the lead barely a minute into the game.

The dominant USA power play extended the lead as the top line executed a nifty passing play around the perimeter that ended with a one-time shot from Stastny in the slot that beat Finnish goaltender Antti Raanta cleanly.

With Carle and Thompson playing their role effectively, the Finns were kept off the board for the first two periods and much of the third as USA protected the two goal lead. The top line for Finland – Petri Kontiola, Juhamatti Aaltonen and Janne Pesonen were all held scoreless in part due to the efforts of Carle and Thompson who did a good job of denying zone entries or time with the puck in the USA zone.

It was the second line for the Finns, with NHLers Mikael Granlund and Lauri Korpikoski — that finally broke through the USA defense late in the third with a pair of goals by Korpikoski to tie the game and sent it into overtime and, eventually, a shootout.

Montreal Canadiens rookie forward Alex Galchenyuk took over at that point, scoring both goals in the skills competition for the Americans to send Finland home with nothing and claim the bronze medal for Team USA.

Carle and Thompson performed well in the tournament given their usage by coach Sacco and have at least earned a look for the USA Olympic Team in Sochi in 2014. Ben Bishop, having ceded the net to youngster John Gibson, may have hurt his international stock a bit and will return to the United States looking for a good offseason so he can head into the 2013-2014 NHL season ready for full-time #1 duties with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Tags: Ben Bishop, Hockey, IIHF, Matt Carle, Nate Thompson, NHL, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Lightning, World Championships

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