VICTORIAVILLE, Que. – For the first time ever, Sweden has won the gold medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, defeating Russia 7-5 in Friday night’s gold medal game at the Colisée in Victoriaville.
Gustaf Franzén and Anton Karlsson each scored twice and added two assists to lead the offence for Sweden, which went a perfect 6-0 during the tournament and averaged more than six goals per game. The Swedes had lost both of their previous trips to the gold medal game, in 19.
Robin Kovacs, Adrian Kempe and August Gunnarsson also scored for Sweden, which trailed 1-0 and 2-1 in the first period and led 3-2 and 4-3 in the second before taking the game’s first two-goal lead in the third on goals from Karlsson and Franzén. The Russians pulled to within one again, but Karlsson, the Swedish captain, clinched the win with an empty-net goal in the dying seconds.
Nikita Yazkov and Ivan Nikolishin had a goal and an assist each for the Russians, which came up one win shy of becoming the first team since Ontario in 20 to win back-to-back under-17 gold medals. Alexander Mikulovich, Yevgeni Svechnikov and Eduard Nasybullin also scored for Russia.
Earlier Friday, the United States won the bronze medal with a 4-3 win over Quebec. Austin Poganski scored a hat trick for the U.S., which won a medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge for the seventh consecutive tournament. Ryan MacInnis had the other goal for the Americans, while Nick Marois, Carl Neill and Francis Perron scored for Quebec.
Following the gold medal game, the tournament all-star team was announced, as selected by Kevin Prendergast, Hockey Canada’s head scout of the men’s Program of Excellence.
2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge all-star team:
Goaltender: Julio Billia (Quebec)
Defence: Nikita Lyamkin (Russia)
Defence: Adam Ollas Mattsson (Sweden)
Forward: Oskar Lindblom (Sweden)
Forward: Connor McDavid (Ontario)
Forward: Sonny Milano (United States)
The event brings together the top players in the world born in 1996 or later. The under-17 program is the first step in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence. Many players who compete at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge go on to represent Canada with the National Men’s Under-18 Team, National Junior Team and National Men’s Team.
Nineteen of the 23 players who were selected for Canada’s National Junior Team and are currently playing in the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, played at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, and alumni of the tournament include past NHL first-overall picks Marc-André Fleury, Taylor Hall, Erik Johnson, Patrick Kane, Ilya Kovalchuk, Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Alexander Ovechkin, John Tavares and Joe Thornton.