IMATRA – Sweden survived a furious third period rally by the Russians to win in overtime at the 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship. Adrian Kempe had the game-winning shootout goal as the Swedes gained their first victory of the tournament.
“We shouldn’t drop a three-goal lead in an international tournament like this,” said Swedish forward William Nylander. “There’s too many points on the line. We started well but we let them back in.”
Early in the third period Russia cut the lead to 3-1 thanks to a goal from Danil Vovchenko, and with just under 11 minutes left Alexei Sleptsov got the loose puck in front of the net to trim Sweden’s lead down to one.
Then two minutes later Sweden took a penalty for too many players on the ice, and on the man advantage Vladislav Kamenev scored on a one-timer to tie the game up and put the momentum entirely on the Russian side.
With 4:56 to go Sweden’s Axel Holmstrom drew a boarding penalty, but the Russians were unable to capitalize on the power play and the teams went to overtime.
In the shootout goaltender Linus Soderstrom stopped both Russian attempts, while Adrian Kempe scored with a forehand deke and William Nylander finished off the Russians with a backhand shot to give Sweden its first win of the tournament.
As in the first game Sweden had some trouble with discipline, but lucky for them so did the Russians. At 14:31 a stoppage in play near the Russian net led to a few clashes between Swedish and Russian players. The referees were able to restore order and handed out a few roughing penalties to calm things down.
Oscar Lindblom scored the game’s first goal, on a wristshot coming from the high slot area and assisted by Nylander. Russia’s inability to stay out of the box cost the team another goal when Sweden’s Gustav Forsling fired a blast from the point on the power play with just over five minutes left to go.
Though the opportunities were few and far between for the Russians to get back into the game, the few chances they did have were good ones. Severstal Cherepovets forward Danil Vovchenko missed twice on breakaways in the first and second periods, the first one sailing wide and the second stopped by Linus Soderstrom’s pad.
Sweden went up 3-0 with another power play marker from Lindblom, coming on a point shot from Forsling that he deflected past Russian goaltender Alexander Trushkov.
The goal prompted a goalie change as Trushkov was pulled in favour of Maxim Tretiak. The grandson of Soviet goaltending legend Vladislav Tretiak came in and performed well in keeping the window open for his teammates to mount the comeback.
But Tretiak couldn’t deny Sweden in the shootout and Russia now has three points in two games at the U18s, with a game against Germany next. Sweden will play Slovakia on Monday.
Finland – Switzerland 2-1 (1-1, 0-0, 1-0)
LAPPEENRANTA – Not a bad start for the hosts. Finland is undefeated so far in the preliminary round of the 2014 IIHF U18 World Championship after edging Switzerland 2-1.
Sebastian Aho’s third period goal stood up as the game-winner. Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 24 of 25 shots from the Swiss, and defenceman Jarkko Parikka earned the Best Player nod for the Finns.
Juho Lammikko got the crowd at Lappeenranta Arena into the game early with a breakaway that the Finnish forward finished with a backhand to the roof of the net for the game’s first goal. But five minutes later Swiss forward Denis Malgin equalized with his third goal of the tournament.
Finland managed to keep the game level despite running into penalty trouble late in the second when Joel Kirivanta earned a ten minute game misconduct for a check to the head and Miro Keskitalo was called for slashing.
Then midway through the third period Waltteri Hopponen and Jere Rouhiainen set up Aho for the game winner, and Kahkonen stopped seven shots to seal the team’s second win of the preliminary round.
Finland (2W-0L) will put its 2-game win streak to the test against the Czech Republic (1W-1L) on Monday, while Switzerland (1W-1L) has an easier match against Denmark (0W-2L).