FARGO-MOORHEAD, USA – To open the 2009 IIHF World U18 Championship, Sweden scored three first-period goals en route to a 7-0 win over the Czechs. Meanwhile, the defending champions from Canada started cautiously but walloped Germany 11-2.
Czech Republic – Sweden 0-7 (0-3, 0-3, 0-1)
The Swedish-Czech opener at the Moorhead Sports Center was a chippy affair, laden with stick infractions and roughing penalties. The Swedes were clearly superior on special teams, capitalizing three times on the power play and once shorthanded.
Left wing Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi, who starred for Sweden at the 2009 World Juniors in Ottawa with seven points, led the onslaught with two goals and an assist. Jacob Josefson had a goal and three helpers, and Calle Jarnkrok added a goal and two assists.
Midway through the game, the Czechs yanked starting netminder Filip Novotny in favour of Marek Mazanec after the Swedes went up 5-0. Swedish goalie Robin Lehner, a product of Göteborg's Frolunda club, recorded the shutout.
Final shots favoured Sweden 39-12.
Sweden is bidding for its first medal at the tournament since 2007's bronze. Tre Kronor has never won the IIHF World U18 Championship.
Germany – Canada 2-11 (1-1, 0-7, 1-3)
For the third straight year, Canada opened the IIHF World U18 Championship with a lopsided win over Germany. The 11-2 victory at Fargo's Urban Plains Center completed the hat trick, so to speak, after Canada triumphed 9-2 in 2008 and 7-3 in 2007.
Canada's shooting percentage soared to improbable heights in the second period. After coming out of the first period in a 1-1 deadlock, the Canadians scored on seven out of their nine shots on Germany's Dustin Haloschan in the middle frame to grab an 8-1 lead.
Centre Byron Froese, who placed third in team scoring with 57 points for the WHL's Everett Silvertips this season, paced the Canadian attack with two goals, including the eventual game-winner, and two assists. Cody Eakin and Ethan Werek both added a pair of goals. Canada outshot Germany 37-20.
The IIHF has organized the World U18 Championship annually each April since 1999. Canada is the defending champion from 2008.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com)