STOCKHOLM (Sweden) - Sweden remained undefeated today, beating the Czech Republic 3-2, to claim the Sweden Games title in Stockholm, Sweden, while Sergei Berezin led Russia with three goals in their 7-3 victory for third place over a Canadian national team that was experiencing goaltending problems
"In competition where we're always the underdog, we need outstanding goaltending," said Canadian national team coach Mike Johnston. "Tonight, both Andrew (Verner) and Mark (Cavallin) struggled."
Verner, of Weston, Ontario, played the first period allowing three goals in seven shots, and one of them with Canada on the power-play. Mississauga, Ontario native Cavallin faired little better, shutting out the Russians in the second period on four shots, but he gave up four goals in the last period on 11 shots.
Johnston also noted that his team cannot spot their opponents any goals early on in the game. "Similar to the other games, we allowed the Russians to take an early 3-0 lead, putting us back on our heels and exposing our inexperience internationally."
Berezin, the Toronto Maple Leafs' eighth choice (256th overall) in the 1994 entry draft, scored two unassisted goals at 6:24 and 10:43 to put the Russians up 2-0, and defenceman Sergei Sorokin beat Verner at 18:41 with Canada on the power-play for the 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Canada scored the lone second period goal when defenceman Jeff MacLeod of Dartmouth, N.S., scored his eighth of the season at 16:34 for the 3-1 score after 40 minutes. MacLeod's goal was unassisted.
Russia turned the heat up again on the Canadian defence at the beginning of the third period scoring three times before the end of the six-minute mark.
Yuri Leonov beat Canada on the power-play at 3:14 and at even-strength at 6:35, while teammate Dmitri Kvartalnov had another at 5:26.
The Canadians attempted a comeback in the last 10 minutes of the game, scoring twice, but Berezin recorded his third of the game at 15:26 to put the game out of reach for Canada.
Terran Sandwith of Stony Plain, Alberta, combined with Montreal's Dany Bousquet at 11:49 to bring Canada at 6-2, and Ryan Johnson, brother of Detroit Red Winger and former Canadian Olympian Greg Johnson, scored at 17:45 to close out the game scoring at 7-3 in Russia's favour. It was Sandwith's third and Johnson's second goal of the season.
There were some positives for the Canadian national team at the end of their last European tour of the season. They kept pace with the more experienced Russian squad today, out-shooting them 26-22.
Russia lined-up behind head coach Vladimir Vasiljev with 11 players from the Russian top league, seven from Sweden and four from the elite German league.
Swedish referee Roger Orerg called 21 penalties - 12 against Russia and nine against Canada. The Russians scored one power-play goal in six tries, while Canada were scoreless on nine opportunities.
Canada's 1995-96 record after 39 games stands at 24 wins, 11 losses and four ties. The national team returns to Canada on Monday to prepare for four-game tours with both the Czech Republic and Russians, and the Father David Bauer Cup against the same two teams in Waterloo, Ontario, from March 28-31.
Sweden Games, Stockholm