SPISSKA NOVA VES, SLOVAKIA - APRIL 20: Sweden's Jacob Olofsson #27 celebrates a second period goal against Canada with Isac Lundestrom #20 during quarterfinal round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Steve Kingsman/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Sweden moves on to semi-finals
With goals in the last minute of both the first and second periods, Sweden built up a 4-2 lead, then cruised to a 7-3 quarter-final win over Canada.
Jacob Olofsson, Fabian Zetterland, Rickard Hugg, Erik Brannstrom and Isac Lundestrom each chipped in with two points for the Swedes.
"I think it was a good bounce back after the game against the USA," said Olofsson, who scored two goals. "We kind of turned the tables - last game we got lots of chances but only one goal, and today it seemed like everything was going in."
"I think we played our best game of the tournament so far," said Swedish head coach Torgny Bendelin. "After some tough games where we maybe didn't play that well, even if we won, a game like this is really good for the team's confidence."
The game started off at a slow pace, but that picked up late in the period as the teams traded scoring chances. Isaac Ratcliffe got in the clear but his hard drive that was labelled for the top corner was deflected into the crowd by Swedish goalie Adam Ahman, and then the other way David Gustafsson got in behind the Canadian defence but fired wide. The Swedes opened the scoring with just three seconds remaining in the opening period when Josh Brook lost control of the puck in his own zone and Zetterland pounced on it, beating Ian Scott with a wrister inside the post.
Asked if the turnover and quick shot surprised him, Scott answered: "Yeah, a little bit. It just sort of snuck under my arm. There was still lots of the game left, though, so I don't think it damaged us too badly."
The Canadians answered back just two minutes into the second period, though. With the team putting pressure on, Matthew Strome got to a puck that deflected off the end boards and his shot from below the blueline went off Ahman and in.
The Swedes opened up a two-goal lead with a pair of goals three minutes apart in the middle of the period. An unchecked Oskar Back entered the backdoor and converted a pass from Hugg with a wide-open net to shoot at, and then on a 3-on-2 rush Scott got a piece of Olofsson’s shot, but the puck was sitting loose in the crease and he was able to get to his own rebound and stuff home.
"I got a good pass there from Isac and tried to shoot it right away. The puck dribbled in behind him and I was pretty lucky that I was able to put it in," Olofsson described.
"There were a couple unlucky bounces there, I think," Scott said of the two goals. "A couple situations where the puck could have gone either way."
With his fourth of the tournament, Mackenzie Entwistle got one back for Canada just over a minute later when his long wrister beat Ahman five-hole, but the Swedes restored their two-goal lead in the last minute of the middle frame on the power play, with Hugg putting home the rebound.
"These were very big goals when talking about the mental part of the game," Bendelin said about the goals his team scored in the last minute of the first two periods. "Because of the timing, they both gave us a big lift mentally."
The Canadians almost answered again early in the period, with Kyle Olson stepping out of the penalty box and joining the rush, but just missing with his shot. Then Olofsson’s second goal of the game - a wrister through a crowd - gave Sweden a stranglehold with 15:40 to play.
Branstrom and Lundestrom - the latter an empty netter - rounded out the scoring for the Swedes. In between, Maxime Comtois scored Canada’s third goal.
Sweden moves on to the semi-finals, where they’ll face the winner of the United States and Switzerland.