FARGO-MOORHEAD, USA – On Saturday, Sweden finished fifth at the IIHF World U18 Championship with a 4-2 win over the Czechs. In relegation play, Slovakia avoided being sent down by beating Switzerland 4-2, while Norway and Germany were demoted to Division I after a 5-2 Norwegian victory.
Sweden – Czech Republic 4-2 (0-1, 3-0, 1-1)
Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi keyed the Swedish attack with a goal and an assist as Tre Kronor ended its tournament on a modestly happy note. However, the fifth-place finish marks a decline in the Swedish program's performance, as the blue-and-yellow squad came fourth in 2008 and third in 2007.
The Czechs finished sixth in their return to the elite division, two years after being relegated to Division I with a ninth-place flop in Finland.
Adam Polasek gave the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead on the power play at 16:47 of the first period, but Svensson-Paajarvi tied the game up at 6:39 of the second. The Swedes built a 3-1 lead heading into the third period on goals by Anton Lander and Gabriel Landeskrog.
The Czechs made a game out of it when Andrej Nestrasil scored with the man advantage to cut the gap to 3-2 with less than five minutes left. But after Czech goalie Filip Novotny was pulled for the extra attacker in the final minute, Sweden's William Wallen scored into the empty net to clinch it. Sweden outshot the Czechs 39-30.
Switzerland – Slovakia 2-4 (0-0, 2-2, 0-2)
For the second straight year, Slovakia and Switzerland proved to be the two U18 squads that survived the perils of the Relegation Round.
Tomas Daniska scored the winning goal for Slovakia, which finished seventh overall in the 2009 IIHF World U18 Championship. Goalie Juraj Holly recorded 46 saves.
The Swiss, who finished eighth, had already guaranteed themselves a spot in the 2010 tournament before this game in Moorhead.
After a scoreless first period, Reto Schappi got the ball rolling for Switzerland with a power play marker just 39 seconds into the second period.
The Slovaks quickly counterattacked, however, as Juraj Majdan replied with the man advantage at 5:16 and Tomas Stano made it 2-1 with another power play goal at 8:44.
At 14:56 of the second, Switzerland drew even on a Samuel Walser goal assisted by Thomas Mettler.
Unfortunately for Walser, he was in the box for slashing when Daniska tallied on the power play to make it 3-2 two minutes into the third. The Swiss pulled goalie Benjamin Conz with 2:09 left to play, but half a minute later, a scrum erupted in which five minors and a misconduct (the latter to Slovakia's Kristian Grman) were handed out.
Switzerland's gambit failed when Marek Hrivik added an empty-netter to make it 4-2 with 43 seconds left on the clock. Hrivik, Daniska, and Stano all finished with a goal and an assist apiece, while Adam Janosik added a pair of helpers.
Final shots favoured Switzerland 48-37.
Germany – Norway 2-5 (1-1, 0-2, 1-2)
After Slovakia's 4-2 win over Switzerland, this game held no meaning apart from determining which nation would finish ninth and which tenth.
Norway, in ninth place, is relegated just one year after being promoted with a perfect record of five wins in the 2008 Division I tournament in Latvia. Germany, in tenth place, is relegated after participating in the top division each year since 2005.
Although the Germans put out a resilient effort, they were stymied by Norwegian goalie Lars Volden, who stopped 53 of the 55 shots he faced.
Volden's teammates mustered only 23 shots on Germany's Lukas Steinhauer, but capitalized twice at even strength and three times on the power play.
Jonas Oppoyen sparked the Norwegian offense with two goals, and Mats Rosseli Olsen added a goal and an assist. Rosseli Olsen, whose late second-period goal proved to be the winner, was stopped on a penalty shot early in the third.