SWEDES OUTLAST BLACK, CLINCH SEMIFINAL SPOT AT U17 CHALLENGE
JASON LA ROSE
SAINT JOHN, N.B. – William Hallén scored the game-winning goal just 37 seconds after Canada Black tied it early in the third period, and Sweden held on for a 4-2 win to secure a semifinal spot at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The victory sends the Swedes into a Friday semifinal against Russia at Harbour Station (3 p.m. AT).
With the pro-Canadian crowd on its feet after Pier-Olivier Roy (Lac-Etchemin, Que./Gatineau, QMJHL) brought Black even 1:02 into the final frame, Hallén carried the puck into the offensive zone and beat goaltender Joe Vrbetic (Dunvegan, Ont./Powassan, NOJHL) under the glove.
Lucas Raymond added a goal and an assist for the Swedes, who are into the final four for the fourth time in five years under the current eight-team format.
The first period belonged to the defence, with the teams combining for just 11 shots on goal.
Zion Nybeck didn’t waste any time getting Sweden on the board once the puck dropped to start the second, cutting into the slot and going back across his body to beat Vrbetic at 1:27.
Raymond made it a 2-0 game with a shorthanded effort at 11:55, showing off his quick hands before going five-hole on Vrbetic, but Josh Lawrence (Fredericton, N.B./Saint John, QMJHL) brought Black back within a goal with a minute left in the period, squeezing a shot under the arm of Swedish goaltender Jesper Wallstedt for a power-play goal.
The comeback was complete early in the third period when Will Cuylle (Toronto, Ont./Windsor, OHL) stripped the puck at the Swedish blue-line and set up Roy on a mini 2-on-0 from the tops of the circles in, but the answer by Hallén was swift.
Wallstedt made 12 saves in the third period to keep the Tre Kronor ahead, and Alexander Holtz added insurance into an empty net with 1:06 left to seal the win.
The loss means Canada Black will play for fifth place on Friday, travelling to the qplex in Quispamsis to take on Canada White (12 p.m. AT).