(Gothenburg) Sweden will have the chance to win gold in front of their fans at the world junior hockey championship. To do this, it will have to overcome its last obstacle, the United States.
Jonathan Lekkerimaki scored the winning goal on the power play and added the insurance goal for the Swedes, who defeated the Czechs 5-2 in the first of two semifinals on Thursday.
The Canucks prospect fired a one-timer that deceived Michael Hrabal to give Sweden a 3-2 lead.
Noah Ostlund then hit the target on a breakaway with about eight minutes remaining in the third period.
Lekkerimaki closed the books just 62 seconds later, after accepting a pass from Ostlund.
“It will be very fun,” Lekkerimaki said of the gold medal game. I am very excited. »
Defensemen Axel Sandin Pellikka, who added an assist, and Theo Lindstein also scored for Sweden. Hugo Havelid recorded the victory with 23 saves.
“He’s not afraid to create things on the ice,” said Sandin Pellikka regarding Lekkerimaki. He jumps on the ice and plays his style. »
The Swedes have only won the annual under-20 competition twice. His last triumph was in 2012, after having triumphed in 1981.
” It is enormous. At home too. There’s nothing that beats that,” defenseman Tom Willander said.
Matyas Melovsky and Tomas Cibulka responded for the Czech Republic, who upset Canada 3-2 in the quarterfinals. Hrabal stopped 26 shots.
“I’m proud of the team,” said Czech head coach Patrik Augusta. The guys worked to the max. They created a team, that’s what’s most important. I don’t have a group of individual players. »
The Swedes, who have settled for silver 11 times, lost to the United States in last year’s bronze medal game in Halifax.
Melovsky opened the scoring at 6:55 of the first period. Lindstein tied the game a few minutes later after Hrabal fumbled his point shot.
Sandin Pellikka gave Sweden the lead at the start of the second period. His point shot surprised Hrabal on the glove side. The Czechs leveled the score less than five minutes later, following a violent one-timer from Cibulka, who scored his second goal in as many games.
In the other semifinal, the United States erased a two-goal deficit to beat Finland, 3-2.
After the successes of Oiva Keskinen and Rasmus Kumpulainen, the Americans responded with goals from Jimmy Snuggerud, Will Smith and Cutter Gauthier.
Flyers hope Gauthier broke the deadlock at 16:47 in the third period.
The United States will face Sweden in the final. It will be an opportunity for revenge for the Americans, who lost 6-4 in the final of the World Under-18 Championship in 2023.
Several players who then won the silver medal are from the American team for the world juniors.
“[They] snatched the gold medal from our necks,” Gauthier said. We remember it like it was yesterday. »
American captain Rutger McGroarty is ready for boos from the crowd, while several Canadians present in Sweden lined up behind the Swedes after the elimination of the maple leaf.
“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like being the bad guy,” the Winnipeg Jets prospect said. We are ready to be the bad guys and win a gold medal on their ice. »
In the relegation match, Germany defeated Norway 5-4 in overtime, earning a place in the next tournament in Ottawa.