Sweden 3 Finland 2
CALGARY — Max Friberg scored the winner in a shootout to lead Sweden to a 3-2 win over Finland in semifinal action at the men’s world junior hockey championships on Tuesday.
Friberg also scored his tournament-leading eighth goal in regulation and added an assist for Sweden.
The Swedes advanced to Thursday’s gold-medal game against the winner of the other semifinal clash between Canada and Russia.
William Karlsson had a goal for Sweden, which finished 1-for-3 on the power play.
Alexander Ruuttu and Joel Armia scored for Finland, which didn’t have a single chance with the man advantage in the contest.
Johan Gustafsson made 22 saves to record the win in the Swedish net, while Sami Aittokallio stopped 55-of-57 shots he faced for Finland at the other end of the ice.
Finland will play for bronze on Thursday afternoon against the loser of the Canada-Russia game.
Earlier Tuesday, the United States downed Latvia 12-2 in a relegation game.
Sweden opened the tournament with a 9-4 win over Latvia before squeaking past Switzerland 4-3 in a shootout. After a 9-1 win over Slovakia, Sweden earned top spot in Pool A and a bye into the semifinal by virtue of a come-from-behind 4-3 overtime win over Russia.
After opening the tournament with an 8-1 loss to Canada, Finland beat the United States 4-1, trounced Denmark 10-1 and blanked the Czech Republic 4-0.
The Finns then downed Slovakia 8-5 in quarter-final action on Monday and vowed to play better defensively in their sudden-death showdown against the Swedes.
Early in the first period, Gustaffson made a nice chest save to stop a shot from Finnish forward Joonas Donskoi.
At the other end of the ice, Aittokallio stood his ground to deny a scoring attempt by Sweden’s Rickard Rakell.
Aittokallio then kicked out his left pad to stop a shot that was tipped in the slot by Karlsson.
Not to be outdone, Gustaffson made a nice pad save to thwart a great scoring attempt by Finland’s Teemu Pulkkinen, who one-timed a pass from Mikael Granlund on net.
Despite being outshot 14-6 in the first period, Finland emerged with a 1-0 lead on a late goal by Ruuttu.
On the play, Miro Aaltonen skated down the left wing into the Swedish zone and around both Mattias Backman and Rickard Rakell before sending a perfect pass into the slot to Ruuttu, who snapped a quick shot past Gustaffson.
Sweden continued to pour on the pressure in the second period and came close to scoring when Mika Zibanejad fired a heavy shot off the right post behind Aittokallio, who later turned aside back-to-back shots by Victor Rask and Zibanejad.
Finland then took a 2-0 lead at 15:30 of the second when Armia stripped the puck from Sweden’s Joakim Nordstrom before firing a shot over Gustafsson’s glove hand and into the top corner.
The Swedes then cut the deficit to one at 3:11 of the third period with a power-play goal by Karlsson. Aittokallio stopped the initial shot by Swedish captain Johan Larsson, but the puck bounced in off of Karlsson, who was driving hard to the net.
Sweden coach Roger Ronnberg called a timeout with 2:38 left in the third and the strategy worked as Friberg scored to force overtime. Johan Sundstrom intercepted a clearing attempt by Aittokallio and threw the puck out front to Friberg, who tapped it into an empty net.
Aittokallio made six saves in overtime, while Gustafsson stopped all three shots he faced in the extra session.
Sebastien Collberg and Forsberg scored for Sweden in the shootout, while Joel Armia was the lone shooter to beat Gustafsson.
United States 12 Lativa 2
Austin Watson had three goals and four assists to power the United States past Latvia in a relegation game.
“I was happy with our effort and intensity,” said American head coach Dean Blais. “It was good to see our offence gel and hopefully that can continue.”
Nick Bjustad added three goals for the Americans. Jason Zucker, J.T. Miller, Bill Arnold, Adam Clendening, Kyle Rau and Austin Czarnik had the others.
Zemgus Girgensons and Teodors Blugers replied for Latvia.