LAPPEENRANTA – Canada is the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship bronze medallist, coming back from a tough loss in the semi-final against the Czech Republic to defeat Sweden 3-1.
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Lawson Crouse had the game-winning goal in the second period, and Mason McDonald stood up in net the rest of the way to deny Tre Kronor a medal with a 38-save performance.
For the Swedes their tournament ended as it began, with a 3-1 loss to the Canadians in a game that played out similarly to their opening tilt back on 17 April.
Crouse, who had not had a great tournament up to that point with zero points and a -2 rating, chose a good time to get his first goal of the U18s, firing a great shot from the left circle straight past Soderstrom’s glove and into the top corner.
“It was good to get out there and grab a goal,” said Crouse. “I’ve been working hard all tournament and it finally paid off, I’m happy for that and it was a great experience being over here in Finland.”
It was a rough battle for bronze, as four game misconducts were handed out. Sweden came into the third period down by a goal, and things didn’t look good when Kevin Elgestal was handed a five-minute major and thrown out of the game for a check to the head to Canada forward Clark Bishop.
The Swedes killed off the major, but then as both teams played four-on-four hockey Travis Konecny blasted a slapshot from the high slot into the top left corner to give Canada the insurance goal with 4:48 remaining.
“Coach talked to us we needed to let go of that game and to have a short memory,” said Travis Konecny. “It’s not the medal we wanted to bring home but we can still be proud of how we played.”
The game started similarly to the previous tilt between the Canadians and Swedes in the preliminary round, with end to end action and big hits from both teams.
Sweden’s aggressive initially paid off midway through the first when a clearing attempt by the Canadians was intercepted in front by Henrik Tornqvist, who fired it home with a wristshot.
Canada equalized with just under three minutes to go thanks to a power play goal from Brendan Perlini. An shot attempt from the point by Jake Virtanen was blocked in front of the net, and Perlini gained possession, turned and shot the puck past Soderstrom. The period ended with a big scrum between the teams and two ten-minute misconducts handed out to defencemen Rasmus Andersson and Joseph Hicketts.
Following Crouse’s goal Sweden, which had racked up an impressive 31 goals in six games at the tournament, was not able to dial up any more offence and the bronze went to Canada, which earned its third straight U18 medal and sixth overall.
“I thought we bounced back well from yesterday, it was a tough way to go out,” said team captain Roland McKeown. “It’s definitely great to leave here with some hardware, we’ve been here 25-plus days and now that we’ve won the bronze medal we can leave with our heads high and be proud of ourselves.”