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Posted On Friday, 01.06.2012 / 12:40 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Zibanejad calls his own shot

CALGARY -- Mika Zibanejad had a feeling when he woke up this morning that today was going to be a big day for him. He was right.

Zibanejad scored the only goal of the gold medal game 10:09 into overtime, giving Sweden a 1-0 victory against Russian for its first World Junior Championship in 31 years.

The Ottawa Senators prospect picked up a loose puck near the red line, busted down right wing, cut in front of Russian goaltender Andrei Makarov and went forehand-to-backhand to lift Sweden to the win and 18,722 spectators at the Scotiabank Saddledome to their feet.

It was a proclamation he made to teammate Jeremy Boyce Rotevall -- twice.

"He told me this morning he was going to finish this game off," Boyce Rotevall said.

Zibanejad, the sixth player taken in the 2011 NHL Draft, confirmed that fact with a gold medal around his neck and a big smile on his face.

"I told him before the overtime, too," he said. "This morning was a joke, but it's not a joke anymore. It was good to get that goal. You have to decide you want to win this."

Sweden's last title came in 1981, 12 years before Zibanejad was born.

"We haven't won in 31 years so I mean, it's wonderful to win now," he said.

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Posted On Friday, 01.06.2012 / 12:34 AM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Friberg leads WJC All-Star team

CALGARY -- Max Friberg of Sweden will head home with a little something extra to go along with his gold medal.

Friberg was one of six players named to the World Junior Championship All-Star Team as selected by the media.

Too busy celebrating Sweden's first gold medal at the event since 1981, Friberg wasn't even aware of the honor. During interviews after Sweden's 1-0 OT win against Russia in Thursday's gold medal game, he was more enamored with the reward dangling around his neck.

"Thank you very much, but this is what's really important, this is what matters the most," Friberg said, pointing to his gold medal. "Of course, I'm happy that (the media) liked my game. "But (gold) is what really matters."

Russia's Yevgeni Kuznetsov was also named to the team along with Finland's Mikael Granlund. Defensemen Oscar Klefbom (Sweden) and Brandon Gormley (Canada) and goaltender Petr Mrazek (Czech Republic) rounded out the team.

Though Russia came up a goal short in the gold medal game, the media named Kuznetsov as the tournament's most valuable player.

Kuznetsov was also named the tournament's best forward as selected by the championship directorate. Gormley and Mrazek were cited as the top defenseman and goalie, respectively.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 10:31 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Sweden, Russia heading to OT

CALGARY – The gold medal game of the World Junior Championship is heading to overtime.

 

It’s not uncommon territory for the two teams, who met in the extra period back on New Year’s Eve. Joakim Nordstrom was the hero in that one, scoring 2:44 in to give Sweden a 3-2 victory.

 

Despite building a 50-16 advantage in shots, Sweden couldn’t manage to beat Russian starter Andrei Makarov over 60 minutes. The Russians, who threw a decent share at Johan Gustafsson, couldn’t get on the board either.

 

The 0-0 tie means both teams will play a 20-minute 4-on-4. If neither team scores, the game advances to a shootout.

 

Though heavily outplaying Russia throughout the contest, Sweden may feel lucky to get there.

 

With 32 seconds remaining, Russian captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov found Nikita Gusev on the doorstep with a no-look, spinning backhand pass. Gusev couldn’t get it behind Gustafsson, who has gone long stretches in the game without any action.

 

Though the action was a little more even in the third period, Sweden dominated Russia through the first 40 minutes of action.

 

Sweden has outshot Russia 39-4 through two periods, including firing 22 shots at Makarov in the second period alone.

 

It was the same story in the first period, when Sweden's best opportunity came midway through the frame.

 

Joakim Nordstrom redirected a shot from the point off the stick of Petter Granberg that was handled with great difficulty by Makarov.

 

But Sweden has yet to get a puck past Makarov, who was somewhat of a surprise starter for Russian coach Valeri Bragin. Bragin’s inclination to play Makarov over Andrei Vasilevski has paid off throughout the game.
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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 9:47 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Sweden dominates, but still 0-0 after two

CALGARY - Sweden continued its utter dominance over Russia through the first 40 minutes of action in the gold medal game at the World Junior Championship -- but still has nothing to show for its efforts in a game that was scoreless after 40 minutes.

Sweden outshot Russia 39-4 through two periods, including 22 in the second period. But Russian goalie Andrei Makarov has been flawless.

At the other end, Swedish starter Johan Gustafsson has barely been tested.

Sweden dominated from the onset of the game, allowing just three shots on goaltender Johan Gustafsson in the first period. In fact, it took Russia 12:34 to get a shot on Gustafsson -- and that was a weak one that off the stick of 2012 NHL Entry Draft eligible Nail Yakupov.

But Sweden has yet to get a puck past Makarov, who was somewhat of a surprise starter for Russian coach Valeri Bragin.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 8:46 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Russia and Sweden scoreless after one

CALGARY -- Sweden fired 17 first-period shots at Russian starter Andrei Makarov, but the teams were scoreless after the opening 20 minutes in the gold medal game at the World Junior Championship.

Sweden dominated from the onset of the game, allowing just three shots on goaltender Johan Gustafsson. In fact, it took Russia 12:34 to get a shot at Gustafsson -- and that was a weak shot that rolled of the stick of 2012 NHL Entry Draft eligible Nail Yakupov.

But Sweden couldn't get a puck past Makarov, who was somewhat of a surprise starter for Russian coach Valeri Bragin -- his decision to play Makarov over Andrei Vasilevski has paid off through the opening period.

Sweden's best opportunity came midway through the frame. Joakim Nordstrom redirected a shot from the point off the stick of Petter Granberg that was handled with great difficulty by Makarov.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 8:00 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Russia and Sweden ready for golden matchup

CALGARY -- The Swedish National Junior Team has visions of celebrating its first World Junior Championship in 31 years.

In order for that to happen, the club will have to dethrone the defending champion Russia in Thursday's gold-medal match at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Russian coach Valeri Bragin, in a somewhat surprising move, will start Andrei Makarov between the pipes against the Swedes. Andrei Vasilevski had started all the big games for the Russians, but was pulled with less than five minutes remaining in Tuesday's semifinal round match with Canada after allowing four quick third-period goals.

Makarov entered the game cold and proceeded to stop all seven shots he faced in a 6-5 victory.

Not surprisingly, Sweden's Johan Gustafsson gets the nod in goal.

Here are the lineups:

Russia


G: Andrei Makarov
Apalkov-Kosov-Barbashev (Sergeyev-Arzamastsev)
Yakupov-Khokhlachev-Kuznetsov (Antipin-Ozhiganov)
Gusev-Kucherov-Grigorenko (Zheldakov-Nesterov)
Kulikov-Zemchenko-Telegin (Naumenkov)

Sweden

G: Johan Gustafsson
Larsson-Sundstrom-Friberg (Klefbom-Brodin)
Boyce Rotevall-Nordstrom-Thorell (Granberg-Nemeth)
Karlsson-Zibanejad-Rakell (Backman-Claesson)
Collberg-Forsberg-Rask-Rensfeldt (Klinberg)

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 5:08 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Canada beats Finland, 4-0

CALGARY -- Mark Visentin saved his best for last at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

In what would be his final appearance in a game for the Canadian National Junior Team on Thursday in the bronze medal contest against Team Finland, Visentin made several highlight-reel stops on the way to a 27-save shutout to lead Canada to a 4-0 victory.

In what arguably can be considered the best save of the entire tournament, Visentin somehow snared an attempt by Joonas Donskoi at the right post by reaching behind his back to keep the puck from crossing the goal line. The stop was showed well over 10 times on the center ice scoreboard and, each time, fans applauded while offering up plenty of "Oooo's and Ahhh's".

Quinton Howden scored a pair of goals and Tanner Pearson and Mark Scheifele once for Team Canada.   

In the first, Pearson converted a perfect feed from Scheifele to give Canada a 1-0 lead. Just 5:35 into the second Pearson returned the favor, dishing to Scheifele in the slot for a 2-0 advantage. Howden would score a power-play with just 30.7 seconds left in the second to extend the lead to 3-0. Howden converted a feed from Mark Stone with just 2:25 left in the game to close out the scoring.

Finland starting goalie Sami Aittokallio, who has played wonderfully in this tournament, was inadvertently run into by Howden with 9:41 left in the second. The goalie remained down for a few minutes before regaining his senses. He finished with 40 saves.

Canada goalie Mark Visentin, making his first start since Dec. 29 when he made 24 saves in a 10-2 victory over Denmark, has turned aside 18 shots through 40 minutes. Visentin denied Teemu Pulkkinen on a penalty shot with 2:11 left in the second after being whistled for throwing his stick in an attempt to block an original shot. Pulkkinen faked a slap shot and skated in, only to be stopped by Visentin's left pad. The goalie then slapped the puck out of his crease to the delight of the locals.

Pearson, in prime position in the slot, one-timed a perfect pass from Barrie Colts teammate Scheifele from the right circle with his team on the power-play at the 9:08 mark to give the Canadians the early lead. Canada isn't playing in the gold medal game for the first time since 2001, which is also the last time the country earned bronze.

Visentin had a solid opening 20 minutes, turning aside seven shots, including a shorthanded breakaway attempt by playmaker Markus Granlund with just 4:13 remaining in the period.

The Canadians received a bit of a scare in the period when defenseman Dougie Hamilton was struck in the ankle following a shot by Finland's Miro Aaltonen. Hamilton slowly returned to the bench but eventually returned to the ice for his regular shift alongside Brandon Gormley.

The Finns couldn't convert a 2-on-1 in the final minute of the period. Joonas Donskoi and Teemu Pulkkinen broke in but Donskoi failed to release his shot from deep in the left circle.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.05.2012 / 3:23 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Finland vs. Canada lineups

CALGARY – After both clubs suffered heartbreaking losses in semifinal action, Canada and Finland still have the opportunity to take home a prize from the World Junior Championship -- a bronze medal.

Canada will look to rebound from a crushing 6-5 loss at the hands of the Russians on Tuesday. Falling behind 6-1 with 11 minutes remaining in the game, Canada battled back to within one before Ryan Strome hit the goal post in the dying minutes of the contest.

On the other side, Finland took a 2-0 lead against Sweden into the third period but lost 3-2 in a shootout.

Both teams will have to put disappointment aside to ensure they won’t be leaving the World Juniors empty-handed.

The game marks the second time in the tournament the two teams have met. Canada won the initial matchup between the two countries by a score of 8-1 in the tournament’s opening game on Boxing Day.

Canada

Brett ConnollyFreddie HamiltonQuinton Howden
Jaden SchwartzRyan StromeBrendan Gallagher
Jonathan HuberdeauMark ScheifeleMark Stone
Michael Bournival – Tanner Pearson

Brandon GormleyDougie Hamilton
Mark Pysyk – Ryan Murray
Jamie OleksiakNathan Beaulieu


Mark Visentin
Scott Wedgewood

Finland

Teemu PulkkinenMikael GranlundMarkus Granlund
Joel ArmiaJoonas DonskoiMiikka Salomaki
Alexander Ruuttu – Aleksander Barkov – Miro Aaltonen
Markus HannikainenMikael KuronenRoope Hamalainen
Otto Paajanen

Konsta MakinenJani Hakanpaa
Miro Hovinen – Ville Pokka
Simo-Pekka Riikola – Rasmus Ristolainen

Sami Aittokallio
Christopher Gibson
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.04.2012 / 4:56 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

IIHF suspends Canada's Jenner; Russia's Isanglulov

CALGARY -- The International Ice Hockey Federation announced on Wednesday that Canada forward Boone Jenner and Russian defenseman Ildar Isangulov will be suspended for their next game at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

As a result, Isangulov, who had no points in six games, will miss Thursday's gold medal game against Sweden at 8 p.m. ET. Jenner, who notched two assists in five games, will have to sit out his team's bronze medal game against Finland on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. ET

At the 15:44 mark of the second period of Russia's 6-5 semifinal-round victory over Canada on Tuesday, Isangulov elbowed Jenner and was whistled for a minor penalty. When Russian captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov made a comment to Jenner after the incident, Jenner speared him and received a five-minute major and game misconduct.

The International Ice Hockey Federation's disciplinary hearing determined, upon review, that Isangulov's elbow was to Jenner's head.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.04.2012 / 4:17 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012 World Junior Championship blog

Latvia earns spot in 2013 WJC

CALGARY - The Latvian National Junior Team secured an invitation to the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship on Wednesday in dramatic fashion when Nikita Jevpalovs scored 1:43 into overtime to give his country a 2-1 victory over Denmark in the relegation round before 6,983 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"It was sick," Jevpalovs told the IIHF website. "I only scored one goal in the tournament before, and to score one like this is a big deal."

Jevpalovs controlled a rebound off a shot taken by Robert Lipsberg and slipped his attempt between the legs of Denmark goalie Sebastian Feulk (29 saves). Kristers Gudlevskis stopped 22 shots for Latvia.

The victory enables Latvia to finish ninth at this year's WJC while Denmark places tenth. Denmark will be demoted to Division 1 in 2013, while Germany gets promoted for next year's tournament in Ufa, Russia. The other two relegation round teams, the U.S. and Switzerland, have already punched their tickets into next year's WJC. They will play 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday to determine the seventh-place finisher.

Denmark had taken a 1-0 lead 3:21 into the first when Oliver Bjorkstrand scored off a pass from Thomas Spelling before Latvia evened the score in the second at the 11:34 mark when Kristians Pelss ripped a one-timer eight seconds into a power-play.

"Right now there are not too many words to explain how bad our feelings are," said Denmark's Nicklas Jensen told the IIHF website. "That's not what we wanted. I think the game went quite well for both teams. Both teams had a lot of chances, but Latvia scored on a golden opportunity in the end. That's what won them the game. That's hockey."

Jensen, a 2011 first-round draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks, was shaken up early in the third period when he crashed into the boards behind the Latvian net. Jensen did return to the game. Jensen led the Danes with 6 points, including 2 goals.  

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There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp