Canada to Face USA in World Junior Finals After Stopping Sweden

Canada to Face USA in World Junior Finals After Stopping Sweden

Steven Ellis05 Jan 2017Steven Ellis»
 

Canada is set to battle for gold on home ice thanks to a 5-2 victory in a competitive battle against Sweden on Wednesday.

 
 
 
 

Canada is set to battle for gold on home ice thanks to a 5-2 victory in a competitive battle against Sweden on Wednesday.

The first ten minutes saw some of the craziest action of the entire tournament, with Sweden coming out with the 2-1 advantage early. The Swedes got the fun started at 6:05 when a failed Canadian power play attempt saw Joel Eriksson-Ek skate down with the puck into the Canadian zone. Eriksson-Ek, Sweden's captain, managed to beat Connor Ingram with a shot from outside the slot, giving the Swedes the 1-0 lead while playing shorthanded.

Then, 22 seconds later, Canada tied it up. This time, Canada's fourth line did the deed after Anthony Cirelli fed Mitchell Stephens in front of the crease and the Saginaw Spirit captain was able to knock it in at the doorstep to make it 1-1 instantly.

But two minutes after scoring their first goal, the Swedes would grab another one. Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Carl Grundstrom would continue his strong tournament by breaking in all alone and beating Ingram on a fanned chance, somehow getting the puck past Ingram to end his night on just three shots and give Sweden the 2-1 lead.

Cirelli had proven himself to be a big game player, going undrafted in the OHL before leading the Oshawa Generals to the Memorial Cup thanks to his tournament-winning goal. At 18:49, he tied the game back up at two after his wrist shot while playing 4-on-4 blew past Swedish netminder Felix Sandstrom, knotting the battle up at one apiece heading into the first intermission.

The Swedish defence really started to struggle in the second and it resulted in Canada's first lead of the game. At 32:02, Julien Gauthier jammed the puck in on the right post after out-muscling Sandstrom's effort in the crease to make it 3-2 for the home team.

Sweden needed just one goal to tie the game up, but a great effort by Carter Hart in Canada's net just made their job tougher. Canada was able to strengthen their lead when, at 47:38, Dylan Strome scored from far out on the power play to make it 4-2 Canada. Gauthier would score his fourth goal in two games on the empty net to make it 5-2, a lead that they would never relinquish to earn a spot in the finals on Thursday.

With the win, Canada will look to repeat their 2015 result with a gold medal against the United States. The Americans were able to beat Canada in the preliminary round, finishing off the round robin with a 3-1 victory on New Year's Eve. The game is set for 8:00 PM, while Sweden will meet up with Russia at 3:30 PM in the bronze medal contest earlier in the day.

Follow me on Twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

Photo from Anders Marshall/EuroHockey.com

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