Thompson, Carle help U.S. claim hockey bronze

 Anchorage’s Nate Thompson and Matt Carle helped the United States collect the bronze medal Sunday at the World Hockey Championships in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Americans beat Finland 3-2 in a shootout to win a world-championship medal for the first time since finishing third in 2004 and for the third time since 1963.

“I’m so proud of this young group,’’ said U.S. coach Joe Sacco, whose team’s average age is 24.8. “We came together as a team and this group was able to achieve something only two other teams have done in the last 50 years for our country and that’s win a medal. It’s not easy.”

Carle, a defenseman, and Thompson, a center, were assistant captains for the team. Both play for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. 

A pair of 19-year-olds powered the United States — Alex Galchenyuk of the Montreal Canadiens scored consecutive goals in the shootout, and John Gibson, a goalie for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League, made 36 saves in regulation and overtime and three in the shootout.

Craig Smith and captain Paul Stastny scored in the first period for the Americans.

Thompson, who played with the Alaska Aces during the NHL’s early-season lockout, was sharp in the faceoff circle, winning 16 of 23 draws — an impressive 69.67 percent. His 38 shifts were the most by any American.

Thompson fired two shots and was even in 19:23 of ice time. Carle had two shots and was minus-1 in 20:09 of ice time.

In the gold-medal match, Sweden beat surprising Switzerland 5-1 with three unanswered goals in the third period.

Simon Hjalmarsson, Loui Eriksson and Henrik Sedin all tallied during the final frame to ensure the host Swedes their first world title since 2006. Sweden fell to Finland in the finals in 2011 and claimed bronze medals in each of the two years prior to that result.

Sedin’s second of two goals came shorthanded. The Vancouver Canucks star also scored on the power play in the first period to snap a 1-1 tie and added an assist on Eriksson’s marker.

Erik Gustafsson also had a goal in the triumph, with Jhonas Enroth stopping 26 of 27 shots to help Sweden to its ninth all-time gold medal.

Roman Josi accounted for the lone score for Switzerland, which last reached the world finals in 1935 and earned its first medal since taking bronze in the 1953 tournament.



Daily News wire services