FARGO-MOORHEAD, USA – With an opportunistic 4-1 quarter-final win over Sweden, Russia advanced to Friday's U18 semi-finals versus Finland. Sweden, which has never won an IIHF World U18 Championship, finished out of the medals for the second straight year.
Sweden – Russia 1-4 (1-0, 0-2, 0-2)
The resurgent Russian U18 program wasn't about to miss a chance to compete for a medal for the third straight year. Russia got two-point performances from forwards Alexander Burmistrov and Evgeni Kuznestov in this victory, and scored in four different game situations.
Sweden opened the scoring at 16:39 of the first period when Jacob Josefson, a centre for Djurgarden of the Swedish Elitserien, capitalized on a play set up by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and William Wallen.
But just 5:09 into the second period, the Russians had an answer, as Dmitri Orlov tied the game 1-1 with the man advantage. And with 45 seconds left in the middle frame, Kirill Kabanov notched the eventual winner on a setup from team scoring leader Vladimir Tarasenko, who earned his 15th tournament point in five games.
The Swedes had an opportunity to tie it early in the third period when Kabanov went off for hooking, but instead, Burmistrov made it 3-1 on a shorthanded set-up from Kuznetsov.
The clincher came with 8:10 remaining when Kuznetsov scored on a penalty shot.
As both teams took penalties in the dying minutes, the Swedes pulled goalie Robin Lehner on two separate occasions in a desperate comeback bid. But they couldn't generate anything on the scoreboard, even though the final shots favoured Tre Kronor 45-31. Russian netminder Igor Bobkov earned his third win of the tournament.
On Saturday, Sweden will play the loser of the USA-Czech Republic quarter-final to determine fifth and sixth place.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)