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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.

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.

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.
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.

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.

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
Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 11:28 PM

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

Russia up 6-5 on Canada in third period

CALGARY -- Trailing 5-1 heading into the third period, Canada has inched to within a goal of Russia in semifinal action at the World Junior Championship at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Canadians now trails 6-5 with four minutes remaining.

Dougie Hamilton converted a cross-crease pass from Mark Scheifele at 9:20. It was the first power-play goal Russia's allowed in the tournament.

Captain Jaden Schwartz struck in the same minute, cutting the lead to 6-3 after banking the puck in off Grigon Zheldakov at 9:43 of the third period.

Brendan Gallagher made it 6-4 after deflecting a point shot from Hamilton and Brandon Gormley's seeing-eye shot from the point has brought Canada to within a goal of tying the Russians.

Nikita Kucherov gave Russia a 6-1 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the third period.

Ignat Zemchenko stepped out of the box to set up a two-on-one with Mikhail Grigorenko. Zemchenko fed Grigorenko, who lost control of the puck cutting across the crease. Streaking in, Kucherov tapped the puck into a virtually empty net at 7:54.

Russia exploded for a three-goal second period to extend its lead to 5-1 against Canada.

Though Canada got on the board just 2:37 into the period to cut Russia's lead to 2-1, Yevgeni Kuznetsov answered with two goals of his own before setting up the third to give Russia a four-goal lead heading into the second intermission.

Kuznetsov scored goals 4:24 apart, first letting go a shot that hit the stick of a Canadian defenseman before going over the glove of starting goalie Scott Wedgewood, then beating Wedgewood again with a deke in alone.

After Kuznetsov's second goal, Yaroslav Kosov ploughed into Wedgewood, who had to leave the game with an injury.

Mark Visentin, the goaltender on record in the gold medal loss to Russia a year ago, didn't fare any better in relief.

Khokhlachev scored 1:48 later after Kuznetsov circled the net and found him alone in the slot for a power play goal to make it 5-1.

Russia opened the scoring in the first period. Kuznetsov took a pass from Nail Yakupov in the slot 7:26. Nikita Nesterov added to the lead at 14:01, the 2-0 lead Russia enjoyed heading into the second period.
 
If Russia is able to hold on through the game’s final 20 minutes, it will meet Sweden in the gold-medal game on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Sweden holds an overtime victory against Russia in a New Year's Eve classic last Saturday night.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 11:16 PM

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

Russia up 6-3 on Canada in third period

CALGARY -- Canada had its opportunity to build a slow climb over their 5-1 deficit. When the Canadians failed to do so, the Russians capitalized.

After its 26th consecutive penalty kill of the tournament, Nikita Kucherov has given Russia a 6-1 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the third period at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Ignat Zemchenko stepped out of the box to set up a two-on-one with Mikhail Grigorenko. Zemchenko fed Grigorenko, who lost control of the puck cutting across the crease. Streaking in, Kucherov tapped the puck into a virtually empty net at 7:54.

Back on the power play, Canada struck to make it 6-2.

Dougie Hamilton converted a cross-crease pass from Mark Scheifele at 9:20. It was the first power play goal Russia's allowed in the tournament.

Captain Jaden Schwartz struck in the same minute, cutting the lead to 6-3 after banking the puck in off Grigon Zheldakov at 9:43 of the third period.

Russia exploded for a three-goal second period to extend its lead to 5-1.

Though Canada got on the board just 2:37 into the period to cut Russia's lead to 2-1, Yevgeni Kuznetsov answered with two goals of his own before setting up the third to give Russia a four-goal lead heading into the second intermission.

Kuznetsov scored goals 4:24 apart, first letting go a shot that hit the stick of a Canadian defenseman before going over the glove of starting goalie Scott Wedgewood, then beating Wedgewood again with a deke in alone.

After Kuznetsov's second goal, Yaroslav Kosov ploughed into Wedgewood, who had to leave the game with an injury.

Mark Visentin, the goaltender on record in the gold medal loss to Russia a year ago, didn't fare any better in relief.

Khokhlachev scored 1:48 later after Kuznetsov circled the net and found him alone in the slot for a power play goal to make it 5-1.

Russia opened the scoring in the first period. Kuznetsov took a pass from Nail Yakupov in the slot 7:26. Nikita Nesterov added to the lead at 14:01, the 2-0 lead Russia enjoyed heading into the second period.

If Russia is able to hold on through the game's final 20 minutes, it will meet Sweden in the gold-medal game on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Sweden holds an overtime victory against Russia in a New Year's Eve classic last Saturday night.


Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 10:54 PM

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

Russia extends lead to 5-1 after 40 minutes

CALGARY -- Russia exploded for a three-goal second period to extend its lead to 5-1 against Canada in semifinal action in the World Junior Championship at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Though Canada got on the board just 2:37 into the period to cut Russia's lead to 2-1, Yevgeni Kuznetsov answered with two goals of his own before setting up the third to give Russia a four-goal lead heading into the second intermission.

Kuznetsov scored goals 4:24 apart, first letting go a shot that hit the stick of a Canadian defenseman before going over the glove of starting goalie Scott Wedgewood, then beating Wedgewood again with a deke in alone.

After Kuznetsov's second goal, Yaroslav Kosov ploughed into Wedgewood, who had to leave the game with an injury.

Mark Visentin, the goaltender on record in the gold medal loss to Russia a year ago, didn't fare any better in relief.

Khokhlachev scored 1:48 later after Kuznetsov circled the net and found him alone in the slot for a power-play goal to make it 5-1.

Russia opened the scoring in the first period. Kuznetsov took a pass from Nail Yakupov in the slot 7:26. Nikita Nesterov added to the lead at 14:01, the 2-0 lead Russia enjoyed heading into the second period.

If the Russians are able to hold on through the game's final 20 minutes, they'll meet Sweden in the gold-medal game on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Sweden holds an overtime victory against Russia in a New Year's Eve classic last Saturday night.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.03.2012 / 10:21 PM

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

Russia extends lead in second period

CALGARY -- Canada got the push back they needed to start the second heading into the first intermission trailing 2-0.

The only problem was the Russians answered – twice.

Canada's Brett Connolly cut Russia's lead to 2-1, but captain Yevgeni Kuznetsov answered just two minutes later.

With a delayed penalty coming to Russia, Connolly jumped over the boards. He picked up the puck, cut through the faceoff circle and rifled a shot over the right shoulder of Russian starter Andrei Vasilevski just 2:37 into the period.

Kuznetsov responded at 4:24.

Taking a pass from Alexander Khokhlachev, Kuznetsov let go a shot that caught the shaft of Scott Harrington's stick and went over the glove of Scott Wedgewood to make it 3-1.

Russia extended the lead to three courtesy of Kuznetsov's hat-trick goal.

Both he and Nail Yakupov managed to get behind Canada's defense. Yakupov fed Kuznetsov, who cut to his backhand and lifted the puck over a sprawling Wedgewood at 8:48.
 
After the goal, Yaroslav Kosov plowed into Wedgewood, who suffered an injury on the play. Mark Visentin, who was in net for Canada a year ago against Russia in the gold-medal game, has come on in relief. 

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