After cruising their way to the Semi-Finals with an undefeated record, Team Sweden was handed their first loss of the tournament by Team Russia on Saturday, in what was undoubtedly the most action-packed game of the tournament. The team will not be given a chance to win their first gold medal since 2012, and are now set to fight in a bronze medal matchup.
The game didn’t let up from full-forced intensity throughout the entire contest, and it got started early with both teams scoring quick goals in the opening three minutes of the first period.
Then things started to go down-hill in a hurry for the Swedes. Nils Hoglander heard the footsteps of Grigori Denisenko coming in on him for a head-on collision, and Hoglander’s reaction was to put his hands up in defense. He caught Denisenko in the head, sending the Russian forward to the ice. The hit resulted in Sweden’s top-scorer being ejected from the game just five minutes into the opening frame.
Nils Hoglander, who leads the #WorldJuniors with 10 points in 5 games has been ejected for this hit. https://t.co/pXMMYplnHK
What resulted afterward was a goal from Minnesota Wild prospect Alexander Khovanov during the Russian five-minute powerplay. Following that was another goal from the Russians, coming from Yegor Sokolov later into the first period, and it appeared as though the game was quickly slipping out of the Swedes reach.
However, Samuel Fagemo would have something to say about that as he scored his tournament-leading seventh goal to rejuvenate the Sweden bench and bring his team back within one.
Sweden had to face an enormous amount of Russian powerplays, taking 35 minutes of penalties throughout the game. The Swedes were able to stay resilient, killing off 5-of-7 Russian powerplays, and were able to respond with three consecutive powerplay goals to grab a 4-3 lead which they sustained for most of the third period.
The four goals came on just 16 shots for the Swedes and resulted in the Russian Head Coach pulling one of the most highly touted goalie prospects in the past decade, Yaroslav Askarov, in favor of 19-year-old Amir Miftakhov. Miftakhov faired well, having to only face five shots but impressively shut the door after coming in cold to one of the most high-pressured situations of his career.
Hugo Alnefelt stood on his to hold Sweden’s lead after struggling early into the game. It seemed as though he was making highlight-reel save after save, including what has been unanimously awarded as the best stop of the World Junior Championship:
Yup, save of the tournament by Hugo Alnefelt https://t.co/qNjgznGpBQ
With just minutes remaining in the game, Sokolov finally found an answer to Alnefelt, sniping a bullet past his head to tie up the game and send the Semi-Final matchup off to overtime.
It wouldn’t take long for the Russians to capitalize with the extra ice in 3on3. Ivan Morozov sent home the game-winning goal that put an end to the most thrilling game of the tournament and booked Russia’s ticket to a gold-medal matchup at the 2020 World Juniors Championship.
Next Up: Team Sweden has to quickly recover from their first heartbreaking loss of the tournament and set their sights on capturing a bronze-medal to get back on the podium after failing to reach the stage in 2019.
Stay tuned to 12oz Sports to get your full preview of the Bronze Medal Matchup before the puck drops this Sunday in the Czech Republic.
Photo Credit – Tre Kronor (Twitter)