Lindstrom the shootout hero
Lindstrom the shootout hero
Sweden to face Finland for gold on Sunday
On the winning goal, Lindstrom came down the middle and fired a quick shot past the blocker of Canadian goalie Evan Fitzpatrick. Canada will battle the U.S. for bronze in Sunday's early game.
Sweden's Lias Andersson and Canada's Brett Howden also scored in the shootout.
"I just wanted to come in and shoot low on the left side," said Lindstrom. "So I knew what I was going to do."
In regulation time, Andersson scored twice for Sweden. Tim Wahlgren, Oskar Steen, and Tim Soderlund also scored for Sweden, and Jacob Moverare added a pair of assists.
Of the on-ice celebration after Lindstrom's winner, Wahlgren said: "It was just pure insanity. We just jumped off the bench and it was really crazy."
Swedish goalie Filip Gustavsson had to work hard for the victory, as shots on goal favored Canada 59-35.
"I got pretty tired there in the third period," said Gustavsson. "It was mentally tough when they scored two fast goals there. But otherwise, I think I played pretty good."
This will be the first gold medal game between Sweden and Finland in IIHF U18 World Championship history, and it should be a dandy. The Finns ended the reign of the two-time defending champion U.S. with a 4-2 semi-final upset.
"It’s just amazing," Lindstrom said. "We have a great team. If we play our best, we can go for the gold."
The Swedes pulled off what would be considered a moderate upset. The blue-and-yellow boys hadn't beaten Canada at this tournament since a 4-2 win in 2011.
Canada trailed 4-2 and 5-3 in the third period, but gallantly rallied to tie it up with under six minutes left in regulation.
Jakob Chychrun stepped up with a goal and two assists. Pascal Laberge, David Quenneville, William Bitten, and Jordan Kyrou also scored for Canada.
It was Canada's first loss of the tournament, and it was tough to swallow for coach Shaun Clouston's squad. The Canadians generally had the better of the play, but their foes were more opportunistic.
"It’s tough with a game like that to end in the shootout, but it’s the way the tournament’s set up," Chychrun said. "We battled hard. We thought we deserved that one. We’re going to do our best to regroup and win tomorrow."
Sweden, which hasn’t medaled since winning three silvers from 2010 to 2012, is now guaranteed some hardware. It's an exciting prospect for a team that suffered a 6-1 pounding from the favored Americans early in the round-robin but looks to have hit its stride now.
Canada, which has medaled at the last four IIHF U18 World Championships (gold in 2013, bronze in 2012, 2014, and 2015), will get a chance to continue that streak against the archrival Americans.
Laberge opened the scoring for Canada at 2:20 on the power play. He walked in and took a shot that was blocked by defenceman Adam Thilander, but collected the rebound and dinged it in off Gustavsson’s right post.
The Swedes gradually picked up their tempo and tied it up at 16:35. Brannstrom shot the puck on edge from the point and Wahlgren deftly tipped it past Fitzpatrick. It was his sixth goal in Grand Forks, tying him for the tournament lead with Canada’s Tyson Jost, the U.S.’s Kailer Yamamoto, and Finland’s Eeli Tolvanen.
"I started so-so, but then after I scored three goals against Switzerland, then it just kept going," Wahlgren said. "I’m pretty happy and hope it will continue tomorrow."
At 1:17 of the second period, the Swedes went up 2-1. Jesper Bratt hustled in over the Canadian blue line on left wing and sent a hard cross-ice pass to Steen, whose hard wrister got through Fitzpatrick’s blocker. It was a goal the netminder would like to have had back.
With the teams at 4-on-4 in a penalty-filled stretch, Canada tied it up at 8:11. McLeod left a drop pass that Quenneville wired off the post, and Gustavsson inadvertently knocked it into his own net.
The Swedes struck back to make it 3-2 just 1:31 later. Despite all five Canadian skaters backchecking, Rickard Hugg got free to backhand a short pass from the slot to Soderlund, who snapped it over Fitzpatrick’s glove.
Canada continued to pepper Gustavsson, outshooting the Swedes 23-9 in the middle frame, but couldn’t cash in just yet.
At 7:50 of the third period, Andersson made it 4-2, cutting left across the Canadian zone and surprising Fitzpatrick with a high shot. He celebrated with elaborate vigor, pumping his fist as he glided through center ice.
Canada cut the deficit to 4-3 at 8:34 when Chychrun pinched down low, took Jost's pass from behind the goal line, and squeezed it through a kneeling Gustavsson's pads. With the assist, Jost registered his tournament-leading 15th point and broke Connor McDavid's Canadian record for most points in a U18 World Championship.
"We were able to crawl our way back into it," Chychrun said. "It just shows the character we have on this team."
With 7:32 left in the third, a lengthy video review took place to see if Canadian defenceman Markus Phillips had pushed the puck over the goal line while attempting to break up a Swedish chance. It counted, and the goal was credited to Andersson for his second of the night.
"From my angle, I thought it was in all the time," Andersson said. "I was 100 percent sure it was in. I told the guys on the bench. I was not so nervous."
Refusing to cave, Canada made it 5-4 just 17 seconds later. Mason Shaw carried the puck into the Swedish zone and found Bitten, who whizzed a high backhander past Gustavsson's glove.
At 14:44, Canada drew even. Boris Katchouk sent a Henrik Sedin-like back pass from behind the net to Kyrou, and he made no mistake for his fifth of the tournament.
Overtime settled nothing, and it was off to the shootout.
"In the OT, we had control of the puck and a lot of scoring chances," Laberge said. "I’m sure if it kept going to 20 minutes, we would have won that game in OT."
This was the first time an IIHF U18 World Championship semi-final has gone to the shootout since James van Riemsdyk got the 4-3 winner for the U.S. versus Canada in 2007.
The result improved Sweden's all-time U18 record versus Canada to six wins and seven losses.
"We’ve got to put this behind us and look forward to tomorrow, playing the Americans," said Jost. "We’re still representing our country and we’re still playing for a medal."
In an historical footnote, Finland finished first and Sweden second in the inaugural 1999 tournament, but there was no gold medal game that year, only a playoff round-robin, in which the Nordic rivals tied 2-2.
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