Fort St. John, B.C.
SPECIAL TEAMS HELP RUSSIA TOP SWEDEN AT U17S
JASON LA ROSE
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Oleg Zaitsev scored the winner on a shorthanded breakaway late in the first period, one of three special-teams scored by Russia in its 4-1 win over Sweden to open the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge on Sunday.
The Russians made it four wins in a row over the defending gold medallists, getting points from eight different players in the win. Only Vasily Podkolzin, with a pair of assists, had more than one.
Daniil Gutik took advantage of an early power play to open the scoring, getting his shot through traffic and past Swedish netminder Hugo Alnefelt for a 1-0 lead at 9:35.
Zaitsev doubled the advantage with less than two minutes to go in the opening frame, gathering in a turnover at the defensive blue-line before racing in and going five-hole on Alnefelt.
Sweden struck back with a power play marker of its own off the stick of David Karlström just two minutes into the second period, but that would be it for offence in a penalty-filled middle stanza, sending the Russians to the intermission nursing a one-goal lead.
Dmitrii Tiuvilin needed all of 24 seconds of the third period to restore the two-goal lead with another power-play conversion, poking in his own rebound, and Matvey Guskov muscled his way to the net to cap the scoring with less than eight minutes left.
Both teams see the ice again Monday at North Peace Arena; the Russians will face Finland in a battle of Sunday winners (2:30 p.m. MT) before Sweden takes on Canada Red (7 p.m. MT).