VICTORIAVILLE, Que. – Gustav Franzén and Anton Karlsson both finished with two goals and two assists to help Sweden to a 7-5 win over Russia on Friday night and its first-ever gold medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The Swedes won for the first time in three all-time trips to the gold medal game; Mats Sundin came up short in Quebec in 1988, as did the Sedin twins in Red Deer nine years later.
Robin Kovacs, Adrian Kempe, August Gunnarsson also scored for the Swedes, who ran through the tournament with a perfect 6-0 record and scored 37 goals in six games, an average of more than six per game.
Nikita Yazkov and Ivan Nikolishin had a goal and an assist each to lead the Russians, who came up one win shy of becoming the first team since Ontario in 2008 and 2009, and just the fourth team ever, to win back-to-back under-17 gold medals.
Alexander Mikulovich, Yevgeni Svechnikov and Eduard Nasybullin had the other goals for Russia.
Friday’s night game was the second between the two teams this week – the Swedes posted a 7-4 win on Tuesday night at the Colisée.
The first two periods were a back-and-forth battle, with the Russians taking a pair of leads in the first period, only to see Sweden tie it up both times, before the Swedes went ahead twice in the second, only to watch Russia pull even twice.
Power play goals less than two minutes apart from Karlsson and Franzen gave the Swedes the game’s first two-goal lead midway through the third, and although Nasybullin scored on a Russian man advantage to cut the lead to one once again, Karlsson, the Swedish captain, clinched it with an empty-net goal in the dying seconds.
Jesper Eriksson earned the win with 24 saves in the Swedish goal, while Russian netminder Maxim Sidorov took the loss after making 24 stops of his own.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)