Sweden began their quarter-final match-up as the only winless team on Thursday, but that wouldn’t slow them down as they managed to shock the Americans by stealing a 5-4 win in the quarter-finals of the World Under-17 Challenge.
Nobody expected the Americans to struggle early against the Swedes, and after just two shots, the favourited team already had the lead on the score-sheet. Max Gildon would get credit for the team’s first marker just 1:27 into the game, taking a wicked slap shot from the blue line to easily beat Olle Eriksson Ek for the 1-0 goal.
The key to Sweden’s failure throughout the tournament has been taking way too many penalties. So it was a nice change of pace for the Tre Kronor when their first goal of the game came while on their own power-play, a beautiful one at that. Lucas Elvenes would score on the one-timer after Lucas Lundestrom made a behind-the-back pass below the goal line, with Elvenes scoring on a clueless Adan Scheel to make it 1-1.
Then, two minutes after that, Hugo Leufvenius would give Sweden the surprising 2-1 lead after Elvenes would make a nice pass himself to #19, who was in the right spot for the quick wrist shot. It was a rough two minutes for Scheel, who allowed two goals on the final three shots he faced in the opening period of play.
With the game just past the halfway mark, it became clear the Americans had problem. With nine minutes to go in the second, Erik Brannstrom made it 3-1 after firing the puck over the blocker of Scheel, giving the Swedes the important two goal advantage.
The Americans weren’t totally out of it, but they needed to get desperate. With six minutes to go, USA would finally return to the goal column after Sean Dhooghe beat Eriksson Ek through the five hole, bringing the Americans within a goal. It didn’t take long for the Swedes to regain their advantage, however, with Karl Markstrom beating Scheel with two minutes to go in the middle frame to extend their lead back to two.
Were the Americans done just yet? Of course not. With nine minutes left in regulation, new American goalie Dylan St. Cyr made a save before sending it off to Joey Cassetti. Then, Cassetti found a streaking Logan Hutsko, who scored on a back-door play to make it 4-3. The Americans would score an extra one in the final seconds of the game, but an empty netter just beforehand would seal things up for Sweden, who would take the 5-4 win.
With the win, Sweden will face the winner of Finland vs Canada White on Thursday night at 8:00 pm EST. For USA, they’ll take their disappointment to the placement round, facing the loser from the White?Finland game at 3:30 pm tomorrow.
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