Kempe, Sweden lose in bronze medal game to USA at WJC

Reign forward Adrian Kempe’s heading back to Ontario without hardware from the World Junior Championships after Sweden’s 8-3 loss to the United States in the bronze medal game in Finland on Tuesday.

Kempe had the primary assist on Sweden’s first goal and another on their eighth one, but Tuesday was all USA. After the United States went up 2-0 early in the first period, Sweden rallied to tie it on a goal first by William Lagesson off Kempe’s driving assist at 17:39 and then another less than a minute later by Carl Grundstrom. The U.S. answered with a four unanswered goals in the second period and never looked back.

For the tournament, Kempe finished with three goals and five assists in seven games. He will now return to the Reign and could play as early as Friday’s 7 p.m. game against Stockton.

Here’s a breakdown of his efforts game-by-game in the tournament:

1. Dec. 26 — Sweden 8, Switzerland 3 (Preliminary Group A play): Kempe has an assist before leaving the game after taking a hard check from behind by Calvin Thurkauf in the second period.
2. Dec. 28 — Sweden 1, United States 0 (Preliminary Group A play): Kempe doesn’t factor in on the scoresheet but Sweden picks up a big win. Overall, it was a win for Kempe that he wasn’t severely injured and was able to play in this one.
3. Dec. 30 — Sweden 5, Denmark 0 (Preliminary Group A play): Kempe scores just 13 seconds in and is named player of the game. His goal comes on a rush down the right side where he roofs a shot opposite side past Denmark goalie Thomas Lillie for his first of the tournament.
4. Dec. 31 — Sweden 5, Canada 2 (Preliminary Group A play): Kempe’s second-period power play goal stands as the game-winner in a bragging-rights game. He finishes with one goal, one assist and an eye-opening, game-high 10 shots on goal.
5. Jan. 2 — Sweden 6, Slovakia 0 (Quarterfinals): Kempe factors in with another one goal, one assist game in the rout as Sweden advances.
6. Jan. 4 — Finland 2, Sweden 1 (Semifinals): Kempe takes two penalties, the second factoring in as part of Finland’s comeback as they get on the board just after his penalty expires. He finishes with no shots on goal and a minus-1.
7. Jan. 5 — United States 8, Sweden 3 (Bronze medal game): Kempe’s assist helped Sweden stay in it early, but in the end the USA ran away with this one. He also had the secondary assist on his team’s final goal.

Kempe, the Kings’ first-round pick at No. 29 overall in the 2014 draft, has seven goals and nine assists in 21 games with the Reign this season. He’s missed seven AHL games while competing in Finland and will miss another tonight when the Reign host Texas. Ontario has just two wins in the seven games without him.

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