International Ice Hockey Federation

Blue is number two

Blue is number two

Sweden tops Russia, finishes second in Group A

Published 14.09.2016 00:06 GMT+11 | Author Sabrina Rutz
Blue is number two
GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA - APRIL 19: The puck gets past Russia's Maxim Zhukov #30 for a Sweden first period goal during preliminary round action at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
With a 5-1 win over Russia at the Ralph Engelstad Arena on Tuesday, Sweden wrapped up second place in Group A behind the U.S. heading into the quarter-finals.

The Swedes put the game away with three goals in less than three minutes early in the second period.

Lias Andersson led the way with two goals, and Tim Wahlgren, Oskar Steen, and Axel Jonsson Fjallby also scored for Sweden. Timothy Liljegren added a pair of helpers. Goalie Filip Gustavsson got the win as the Swedes outshot Russia 40-23.

Of finishing second in the group, Andersson said with a smile: "That’s better than third. That was our goal before the game, to win versus the Russians and take second place. The U.S. is a good team, so we’ll have to beat them maybe in the semi-finals or finals."

In Thursday’s quarter-finals, the Swedes will face the winner of the Slovakia-Czech Republic game.

Coach Torgny Bendelin's troops look to have improved during the preliminary round. After edging underdog Latvia 4-3 in overtime and falling 6-1 to the defending champion U.S., they slammed Switzerland 8-1 before posting another convincing victory here.

Andrei Svechnikov had the lone goal for Russia, which had an up-and-down run in the round-robin.

"We played a bad game," said Russian assistant captain Mikhail Sergachyov. "We didn’t play our structure the way the coach told us to play. We just lost the game. We got some bad penalties and played on the penalty kill a lot. "

On Monday, three different games saw the victorious team prevail by seven goals. This wasn’t quite that lopsided, but it wasn’t a vintage Sweden-Russia battle.

This has been a very even rivalry over the year, dating back to the inaugural IIHF World U18 Championship in 1999. Prior to this game, Sweden had won five and lost six of the 11 meetings. However, this matchup was different in that it featured a primarily U17 roster for Russia, and the age difference would be telling.

"We’re obviously a young team, and we’ve got to play better and better," said Sergachyov. "It’s the first tournament like this for the boys, and it’s tough to play, especially against teams like Sweden and the States or even Switzerland."

At 11:52, the Swedes opened the scoring on a broken play. Coming out of the corner, Andersson tried to pass the puck past Dmitri Samorukov, but it bounced right back to him off the Russian defenceman. Andersson then surprised Russian starting netminder Maxim Zhukov with a quick low backhander on the glove side.

"I tried to shoot with my backhand and it went in," said Andersson. "So that was perfect. Good job by my linemates, Alexander Nylander and Elias Pettersson."

With Sweden dominating play 5-on-5, Russia’s best hope was to capitalize on the power play. However, they proved ineffective with a man advantage before the buzzer. Shots favored Sweden 15-5 in the first period.

The teams were four-a-side when Sweden grabbed a 2-0 lead on an odd-man rush just 52 seconds into the middle frame. Linus Lindstrom skated into the left faceoff circle and sent a centering pass past Veniamin Baranov, and Wahlgren fired it through the goalie’s legs. It was the 18-year-old Modo Ornskoldsvik forward’s fourth goal in the last two games.

At 2:20, the Swedes gained an insurmountable 3-0 lead when Steen whacked the rebound from Liljegren’s point shot past Zhukov.

Danil Tarasov was substituted between the Russian pipes, to no avail. Less than a minute later, Andersson cruised into the right faceoff circle on the power play and snapped the puck over a kneeling Tarasov’s glove to make it 4-0.

Sweden showed good discipline for the most part, but captain Jacob Cederholm was sent off for boarding on a rough hit on Ivan Kozlov behind the Swedish net shortly after the midpoint of the game. Once again, the Russians couldn’t get anything going on the power play. The Swedes outchecked and outhustled them, blocking shots with great resolve.

In the third period, Jonsson Fjallby zinged a wrister from the right faceoff dot past Tarasov’s blocker for the fifth Swedish goal at 11:37.

All the Russians could aspire to now was spoiling Gustavsson's shutout bid. Svechnikov achieved that with a nice goal with 3:41 left, cutting hard to the net and tucking it past the goalie.

"I think we played a solid game over 60 minutes," Andersson said.


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