SWEDES USE BIG THIRD TO BEAT FINNS IN U17 OPENER
JASON LA ROSE
QUISPAMSIS, N.B. – Jesper Wallstedt was terrific in a 47-save performance, and Sweden scored four times in the third period to pull away for a 6-1 win over Finland in the tournament opener Saturday at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Six different players scored for the Swedes, who beat their Nordic neighbours for the fifth time in seven all-time U17 meetings and avenged their preliminary-round loss from a year ago.
Alexander Holtz finished with a goal and an assist, while Samuel Eriksson added two helpers. Erik Hedlund, William Hallén, Lucas Raymond, Zion Nybeck and Daniel Ljungman also found the back of the net.
Holtz needed less than five minutes to open the scoring, racing away on the breakaway and tucking a backhand behind Finnish goaltender Joel Blomqvist for the lone goal of the first period.
Hedlund doubled the lead at 7:22 of the second period, snapping a quick shot past Blomqvist, but Roby Järventie finished a pretty cross-ice feed from Oliver Suni to get Finland within one again after 40 minutes.
The Finns held a 20-12 advantage in shots on goal in the third period, but it was the Swedes who lit up the scoreboard.
Hallén restored the two-goal advantage at 2:43, beating Blomqvist after a turnover deep in the Finnish zone, and Raymond jumped on a rebound in close just past the midway mark of the final frame.
Nybeck roofed a backhand in the slot for the 5-1 goal with five minutes left, before Ljungman redirected a Helge Grans shot with 95 seconds to go to finish the offensive festivities.
The Swedes are back in action Monday night, taking on Canada Red at the qplex (7 p.m. AT), right after the Finns face Russia (12 p.m. AT).