U18: Canada vs. Russia for gold

First-ever medal meeting for the two nations at U18s.

Kazan  Russia

Russia is elated to be playing in their second straight U18 gold medal game. PHOTO: Mikael Fritzon, HHoF Images

Russia – United States 3-1 (1-0, 1-0, 1-1)
Russia will skate for its second consecutive gold medal at the U18 World Championship after hanging on for a 3-1 win against the United States in the semi-final game. Russia will take on Canada on Wednesday for gold, while the U.S. will face Sweden for bronze. It will be the first-ever meeting between Russia and Canada in any medal game at the U18 World Championship. Russia will go for a record fourth gold medal at the event, while Canada is looking for its second-ever gold. The meeting was a rematch of last year’s gold medal game and had all the elements of a medal game as both teams played a very competitive yet controlled game. The only U.S. penalty of the first period cost the team dearly, as Russia capitalized on its only extra-man chance, with a Viacheslav Voinov goal 15:34 into the game. It took more than 20 minutes of end-to-end action for the next goal to be scored when Russia doubled its lead with 2:36 left in the second period, leaving the Americans with a hefty 2-0 deficit to overcome in low-scoring affair. The clock was the American’s worst enemy in the third period as they tried to generate any offense, but had problems stopping the momentum that the Russians had steadily built in the first 40 minutes. Ryan Bourque finally got the U.S. on the scoreboard with 6:49 left in the game, leading to a dramatic conclusion that included the Americans pulling the goaltender for the extra skater. But Russia held off the late attack and put in the empty netter for the 3-1 win and the gold medal game berth. Wednesday will be the second meeting of this year’s championship between Russia and Canada. Russia won the first meeting, 4-2. Russia is also looking to become the first host nation to ever win a U18 gold medal. The U.S. can also make history, with a bronze medal win they would become the first country in U18 history to win five consecutive medals at the annual event. Sweden – Canada 2-3 (1-1, 1-1, 0-1)
A pair of power-play goals from Taylor Hall lifted Canada into the gold medal game of this year’s U18 World Championship. Canada will face the winner of tonight's Russia-USA game on Wednesday. It is only the third time in Canada’s history at U18s that they will skate for gold and the first time since 2005, when they took silver. Canada ever held a lead until Hall scored his second power play goal 6:52 into the third period. The capped an unlikely turnaround, which saw Canada out-played in the first period, and inching its way back into contention in the remaining 40 minutes. The first-period scoring happened in a 27-second span as the teams exchanged the quick goals. Mattias Tedenby gave Sweden the 1-0 lead 5:51 into the game, only to have erased on the next shift by Matthew Duchene. Despite the deadlocked score, Sweden clearly had the upper hand in the first period, out-shooting Canada more than three-to-one. Sweden’s persistence paid off in the opening minutes of the second period as they took the 2-1 lead 1:08 into the period when Jakob Silfverberg scored. But once again, Canada was there to even things up as Taylor Hall scored the power-play goal at the 8:06 mark of the period. Sweden had been living dangerously in the period, with three penalties in the first half, including one that led to a five-on-three. The teams were even in the third period, until Hall struck with the eventual game-winner. Both teams played disciplined hockey, giving up minimal power-play chances until a minor scrum in the waning seconds put both teams down a man. For Sweden, it is the second straight year that the nation earned the quarterfinal bye only to lose in the semi-final. Last year, the Swedes won the bronze medal, 8-3 against Canada. Slovakia – Switzerland 3-2 (0-0, 0-1, 3-1)
Slovakia finished this year’s U18 World Championship in seventh place after a third period rally gave them a 3-2 win over Switzerland in the last relegation round game. Despite out-shooting Slovakia 30-9 in the first two periods the Swiss scored only once in the first 40 minutes, and that tally came in the last 48 seconds of the second period when Marc Kampf gave Switzerland the 1-0 lead. Slovakia started the third period on a power-play and tied the game at one with the extra man when Marek Hrvik scored 1:39 into period. Slovakia continued its unlikely comeback in the third period when Adam Lapsansky scored the go-ahead goal at the 47:23 mark. With not much on the line, besides the final placement, Switzerland had to dig deep to get the game-tying goal, but Sven Ryser came through for the Swiss, making it 2-2 with eight minutes left to play. But Slovakia’s Martin Uhnak ended all chances for overtime when he scored game winner with 10 seconds left in the game. Both Switzerland and Slovakia will return to next year’s top division, which will be played in the United States. Denmark – Belarus 2-6 (0-2, 1-1, 1-3)
Belarus earned bragging rights and ninth place at this year’s U18 championship after skating to a 6-2 win against Denmark. The game had no implications other than the final tournament placement as both nations knew they were relegated to Division I entering the game. Belarus scored a pair of goals 1:21 apart to take the early 2-0 lead. Belarus forward Igor Stepanov made it 3-0 midway through the game with the second power-play goal for his team. Setpanov also assisted on a first-period tally. Denmark got on the board with 2:04 left in the second period, to pull back to within two goals. It proved to be closest that the Danes would come, as Belarus added another three goals in the third period, pulling out to a 6-1 lead before Denmark put in one final goal in the late stages of the game to bring the final to 6-2.
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