SWEDES HANG ON TO BEAT U.S., ADVANCE TO U17 SEMIFINALS
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Carl Jakobsson and Jacob Olofsson scored early in the third period, and Sweden survived a frantic finish to edge the United States 4-3 on Thursday afternoon and move into the semifinals at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
With the win, Sweden will face the winner of the Canada White-Canada Red quarter-final on Friday. The U.S. will wait on the results from the other quarters to learn who they will face in a placement game.
It’s the second year in a row Sweden has topped the U.S. in the quarter-finals; after nine consecutive tournaments with a medal, the Americans will go back-to-back years without for the first time since 2004-05.
After the teams spent the opening minutes of the game trading chances, Sweden was first on the board after Jonatan Berggren found a rebound at the side of the net and beat U.S. goaltender Keegan Karki to the near post for a 1-0 lead just 6:16 in.
The Swedes ran into penalty trouble (for the first time) in the second period, handing the U.S. five opportunities on the power play in the middle frame, leading to a 15-3 advantage in shots on goal.
But Olof Lindbom and the penalty-killing unit kept the Americans at bay, including during 30 seconds of five-on-three time, and Sweden doubled its lead before the end of 40 minutes.
Coming off the side boards, David Gustafsson ripped a quick shot past Keegan Karki with less than three minutes to go in the middle frame, opening up a 2-0 advantage. But the Scandinavians weren’t finished yet.
Just over a minute into the third, Jakobsson picked up a turnover at the U.S. blue line and deked out Karki for his second of the tournament to make it 3-0, and Olofsson blocked a shot at his own blue-line and raced away to beat Karki for the 4-0 goal.
The Americans quickly turned the momentum to their favour, though, and Erik Middendorf got the U.S. on the board five minutes into the final frame, redirecting a feed from Patrick Giles past Lindbom.
Penalties came back to bite the Swedes again, and Bode Wilde got a shot through traffic on an American power play at 16:45 to make it a two-goal game, before Joel Farabee gathered in a wide shot off the end-boards and beat Lindbom with 43 seconds left on another man advantage, setting up a tense final few seconds.
Karki went to the bench again in the dying moments, but the U.S. couldn’t register another shot, and a valiant comeback attempt fell a single goal short.