Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Sweden tops Belarus

Elias Pettersson and Erik Brannstrom had a goal and an assist apiece, and Glenn Gustafsson and Jens Boqvist also scored for Sweden, which is seeking a medal after three straight fourth-place finishes. Alexander Nylander, Rasmus Dahlin, and Fredrik Karlstrom all chipped in two assists.

Yegor Sharangovich replied for Belarus.
Sweden’s Filip Gustavsson, named Best Goalie at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship in North Dakota made just 8 saves for the win in front of the HarborCenter crowd. Andrei Grishenko, making his World Junior debut between the pipes for Belarus, had 31 saves.

The Belarusians have never done better than ninth at this event -- snd that was back in 2001 and 2002.
You couldn’t fault Belarus’s effort, but it wasn’t enough to hold the Juniorkronorna off forever with their superior skill and speed. At 8:44, coach Tomas Monten's boys opened the scoring on their first power play. Pettersson dished the puck to Rasmus Dahlin before getting it back and whizzing it over Grishenko’s glove from the right faceoff circle.
On their second shot of the period, the Belarusians tied it up shorthanded at 14:56. Sharangovich capitalized on a turnover at the Swedish blue line and scored on a breakaway. Outshot 12-2 in the first, Belarus was happy to end the period on even terms.
Midway through the second period, the teams started throwing their weight around. Defenceman Gustav Lindstrom hammered Dmitri Grinkevich as Sweden’s annoyance with the deadlock mounted. Near the halfway mark, Axel Jonsson Fjallby flubbed his breakaway chance.
At 10:57, the dam broke. Brannstrom came late and took a nice flip pass from Nylander inside the Belarusian line before beating Grishenko from the slot. And it was 3-1 at 12:33 when Gustafsson deftly tipped Lindstrom’s shot from the line.
Boqvist made it 4-1 at 14:18 with a rising shot from the faceoff circle, and that ended Belarus’s hopes. Coach Yuri Faikov called his time-out, but it was too late to regroup.
In the third period, the top Swedish attackers struck again on the power play at 2:17. Andersson converted a set-up from Nylander, with a second assist going to Pettersson. At 11:07, Andersson got his second after playing catch with Dahlin. 
This was the first time Sweden has faced Belarus at the World Juniors since 2003. There have been no cataclysmic upsets like the senior Belarusian team’s 4-3 quarter-final win over Tre Kronor at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Sweden has won all four World Junior meetings dating back to 1998.

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