Canada, Sweden fall in world junior quarterfinals
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Canada and Sweden tumbled out of the world junior hockey title chase in stunning quarterfinal collapses, while the United States and Russia advanced to the semifinals Wednesday night.
Canada fell 2-1 to Finland in overtime after giving up the tying goal in the final minute of regulation and missing a penalty shot early in the extra period. Earlier, Sweden dropped a 2-0 decision to Switzerland in Victoria.
“It’s heartbreaking for all of us and the whole country, too,” Canadian defenseman Ian Mitchell said. “You just wish that at the end of the day we are putting on the gold medal, but we weren’t able to do that.”
The Americans beat the Czech Republic 3-1 in Victoria to set up a semifinal Friday night against Russia, an 8-3 winner over Slovakia in the late game at Rogers Arena.
“We knew if we put together a good 60 minutes of hockey that we’d be able to get the job done and our team was rewarded with a hard-fought victory,” U.S. coach Mike Hastings said. “We keep saying this process is about continuing to take steps and, at the end of the day, we’re moving on to the next round. We’ll enjoy this tonight, but come tomorrow our focus turns toward the semifinal.”
Josh Norris, Noah Cates and Alexander Chmelevski scored for the United States, and Cayden Primeau made 18 saves. U.S. star Jack Hughes had an assist in his return after missing three straight round-robin games with an undisclosed injury.
“Growing up, USA-Canada in Canada, that’s a dream come true,” Hughes said. “It kind of sucks we won’t be able to play them.”
Martin Kaut scored for the Czech Republic.
Finland will face Switzerland in an unexpected matchup in the other semifinal Friday.
Aleksi Heponiemi scored for Finland with 47 seconds left in regulation, with a centering pass deflecting in off his leg with goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen off for an extra attacker, and Toni Utunen ended it at 5:17 of overtime.
“We earned the bounce,” Finnish coach Jussi Ahokas said. “We played really well for 60 minutes. The biggest thing is, we had lots of chances. We’ve had lots of chances all tournament, but the bounces haven’t come until now. It was a huge victory for our team.”
Luukkonen stopped Maxim Comtois on the penalty shot in overtime, with the Canadian captain smashing the puck into Luukkonen’s pads.
“I was trying to figure out what he might do, but I tried to be patient,” Luukkonen said. “You just have to hold your stance, not slide back into the net. But there’s not much thinking going on, and he shot it at me.”
Canada was last ousted in the quarterfinals in 2016 in Helsinki, also by Finland, which went on to win the gold medal. Mitchell scored in the second period for Canada.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow, but you just reflect on what you feel you could have done better as a player or a coach, what you felt you did well as a player or a coach,” Canadian coach Tim Hunter said. “That’s how you get better.”
Luukkonen finished with 23 saves, and Michael DiPietro stopped 32 shots for Canada.
Luca Hollenstein made 41 saves for Switzerland and Yannick Bruschweiler and Luca Wyss scored.
“To us, it’s very big,” Wyss said. “Everyone around talked that Sweden is going to beat us. We as a team had in our heads we can play against Sweden.”
Sweden lost after winning all four of its Group B games to run its round-robin winning streak to 48 games.
“It’s hockey,” Swedish coach Tomas Monten said. “They played a really good game. We lost our tempo with the puck.”
Switzerland finished fourth in Group A, beating only overmatched Denmark.
“The confidence is huge,” Swiss coach Christian Wohlwend said. “The team belief is huge. We’re just riding on the wave now.”
Klim Kostin scored twice for Russia, and Grigori Denisenko, Stepan Starrkov, Alexander Alexeyev, Nikita Shashkov, Kirill Slepets and Ilya Morozov added goals. Martin Fehervary, Milos Roman and Michal Ivan scored for Slovakia.
In regulation play in Vancouver, Kazakhstan beat Denmark 4-3 in Game 1 of the best-of-three series.
Oleg Boiko, Yemar Musabayev, Sayan Daniyar and Artur Gatiyatov scored for Kazakhstan, and Demid Yeremeyev made 40 saves. Jonas Rondbjerg, Andreas Grundtvig and Malte Setkov countered for Denmark, its first goals of the tournament after being outscored 26-0 in four round-robin games.
The series loser will drop to Division I. Germany advanced from Division I for 2020.