STEPHENS’ THREE POINTS LEAD CANADA TO SEMIS AT U18 WORLDS
JASON LA ROSE
ZUG, Switzerland – Mitchell Stephens (Peterborough, Ont./Saginaw, OHL) led the way with two goals and an assist, helping Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team to the semifinals at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship with a 5-3 quarter-final win over Sweden on Thursday.
The Canadians will face the United States in a Saturday semifinal in Zug (time to be determined).
Jansen Harkins (North Vancouver, B.C./Prince George, WHL), Deven Sideroff (Summerland, B.C./Kamloops, WHL) and Graham Knott (Holland Landing, Ont./Niagara, OHL) had the other goals for Canada, which is among the final four teams at the world championship for the fifth year in a row.
Knott finished with a goal and two assists, Harkins had a goal and a helper, and Mathew Barzal (Coquitlam, B.C./Seattle, WHL) chipped in with two assists to tie U.S. forward Auston Matthews for the tournament scoring lead with 12 points.
Harkins got the scoring started just 5:11 in, taking a pass from Ethan Bear (Ochapowace, Sask./Seattle, WHL) and wiring a wrist shot to the short-side on Swedish goaltender Felix Sandstrom, and Stephens’ first made it 2-0 just 56 seconds later.
The Swedes got one back when Lucas Carlsson blasted a point shot past Canadian netminder Zach Sawchenko (Calgary, Alta./Moose Jaw, WHL) on the power play at 7:11, but Sideroff restored the two-goal lead in the last minute of the period, scoring from in close to make it 3-1 after 20 minutes.
Sweden again cut the lead to one early in the second period when Joel Eriksson took advantage of a turnover in the Canadian zone to score shorthanded.
Stephens answered late in the middle frame, taking a pass from Knott, spinning in the slot and roofing a shot over the blocker of Sandstrom to put Canada back up by two heading to the third period.
Canada missed a glorious opportunity to put the Swedes away when it failed to score on 1:34 two-man advantage, before Sweden got back within one with 4:26 left on the luckiest of bounces.
With Sawchenko on the bench on a delayed Swedish penalty, Knott’s pass back to the point hopped over Bear’s stick and slid the length of the ice into the empty net, gifting the Swedes the 4-3 goal.
But Knott got it right back on the ensuing power play, redirecting a feed from Stephens past Sandstrom just 22 seconds after his own goal, and rounding out the scoring.
The Swedes held a slight advantage in shots on goal, 38-34.