World Juniors Roundup: January 3rd
Sweden 5, Slovakia 3
For a while, it looked like the Slovaks were going to continue their unexpected drive for the the gold medal, but Mikael Backlund and Sweden would have none of that. Backlund scored two goals, while Oscar Möller, Simon Hjalmarsson, and David Ullström also tallied for the Swedes. Ullström scored the go-ahead goal about nine minutes into the third period; he made a power move to the net, fell down, and poked the puck past Slovakian backstop Jaroslav Janus, who was fantastic even in a losing effort. Janus has been Slovakia’s best player all tournament, and he stopped 46 of 50 shots in this game. Marek Mertel and Tomáš Tatar scored for Slovakia to build a 2-1 lead at one point. Sweden now advances to the Gold Medal Game, and the Slovaks will play in the Bronze Game.
Canada 6, Russia 5 (SO)
Jordan Eberle tied the game with 5.4 seconds left in regulation, and he scored the game winner in the shootout as the Canadians rallied from a 5-4 deficit in the closing seconds to beat Russia and advance to the Gold Medal Game. Eberle and John Tavares fooled Vadim Zhelobnyuk in that shootout, while neither Russian shooter could beat Dustin Tokarski, who had a rough time before finally getting it together late in the game. Russia went into the final frame down 3-2, but an Evgeni Grachev goal negated that deficit less than a minute into the period. Then, Brett Sonne sprang Angelo Esposito on a shorthanded breakway with a crisp pass through the neutral zone, and Esposito buried it to make it 4-3 Canada. Russia again answered though, this time by means of a Sergei Andronov goal on a five on three powerplay, just after Esposito’s marker. With 140 seconds left on the clock, Russian forward Dmitri Klopov took advantage of some poor positioning by Tokarksi, and sneaked the puck inside the post and into the cage. That set up for Eberle’s dramatic buzzer beater—Ryan Ellis kept a high puck off the glass just inside the Russian zone, and after some digging, the puck went to Tavares along the boards. Tavares floated one to the slot, and the puck got stuck underneath a Russian defenseman. Eberle dug the rubber out, and backhanded it home. Canada will face Sweden on Monday night at 7:30 for the gold, and Russia will see the Slovaks for the bronze.