In a battle between the teams that many onlookers felt were the two best in the tournament, Canada outlasted Sweden 4-1 to advance to the final. The game was scoreless after one period, 1-1 after the second, and Canada got goals from Serron Noel, Benoit-Olivier Groulx and empty-netter by Aidan Dudas to put the game away.
Penalties: 6:9. PP goals: 1:1. SH goals: 0:0.
Referees: Jonák, Fridrich - Výleta, Šefèík. Attendance: 550.
It was a hotly anticipated contest, but the game started out at a slow pace, however, with a lot of stoppages in the first period and neither team able to sustain much pressure of generate much speed.
The pace picked up considerably in the second period, as the teams began trading chances. Joe Veleno cut in on goal early in the period but was denied by Olof Lindbom. Then on a Swedish power play, Rasmus Sandelin hit the goalpost, and then back the other way the Canadians almost got a shorthanded breakaway, but Lindbom raced out to clear away the puck. It seemed like only a matter of time, though, before a goal was scored and finally it was.
The Canadians were on the power play with less than five minutes to play in the second period - it was their third power play of the period and sixth of the game. Calen Addison found Akil Thomas, who picked the low corner on Lindbom.
It looked like the Canadians would have the momentum heading into the third period, but the Swedes took that from them with a late power-play marker of their own. Just after Lindbom stopped Barrett Hayton on a shorthanded breakaway, the Swedes got possession in the Canadian zone and Adam Ginning’s blast from the point was tipped in front by Lukas Wernbolm for the tying goal with 2.8 seconds on the clock.
The third period started out conservatively as nobody wanted to make the mistake that would put his team behind the eight ball. Finally, with 11:24 to play, the Canadians scored a hardworking goal. Jack McBain made a play from his knees to get the puck to Serron Noel at the side of the net, and he banged it home.
There was still lots of time left, however, and the Swedes had two more chances on the power play to tie it back up, but were unable to - the best chance being a blast from Adam Boqvist that grazed the shoulder of Olivier Rodrique and the top of the crossbar before hitting the end glass with less than five minutes to play. Then with less than three minutes to play, Benoit-Olivier Groulx made a great play in front of the net to give Canada a two-goal cushion, digging the puck free and kicking it up to his stick before shooting it in. The Swedes complained that he kicked it in, but after a video review it was ruled a good goal.
By this time the Canadians were in firm control, and Aidan Dudas’s empty-net goal with 35 seconds left put it away, to secure their place in the final.
Torgny Bendelin (head coach, Team Sweden): “I thought Canada was a little bit better than us today, but still it was 1-1 after two periods, so we had a chance, but small mistakes changed the game and I’d say the third goal killed us. At 2-1 we could pull the goalie and maybe score, but 3-1 against a strong defensive team like that is really difficult. We won the group but still had to play an ‘away’ game and the heat in this arena was hard to deal with - we weren’t used to it. No excuses, I think Canada was better today, but some of the guys had problems with the heat. Now we have to come back here tomorrow against Russia, who is used to this arena, but that’s the way it is.”
Brent Kisio (head coach, Team Canada): “I thought Sweden played really well. It was a heck of a hockey game. Both teams went at it hard and it was tied going into the third period, and that’s what we expected. We knew they were a great team, and I was proud of the way our guys stuck with it and found a way to win. The start was slow, but it was two structured teams going at it, and in that situation it can be hard to get anything going. Then it was back and forth and we found a puck in the slot there and scored a big goal, and then I like the way we played after that - we did a good job keeping them in front of us and creating turnovers. We know it’s going to be difficult tomorrow - it’s their arena and their fans - but we’re just going to have to play hard and battle through it.”