Russia and Sweden are prepared to drop the puck in the semifinals of the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship on Thursday in Ufa, Russia.
The game is a rematch of last year's gold-medal game, a 1-0 overtime win by Sweden. The winner will advance to this year's gold-medal game Saturday (8 a.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN) against the United States, a 5-1 winner against Canada in the other semifinal.
The fact Sweden has been able to advance this far in the tournament is a story in itself when you consider the team lost three key defensemen to injury before the tournament even began -- Oscar Klefbom (shoulder), Jonas Brodin (clavicle) and Hampus Lindholm (concussion).
There are six returning players for the defending gold medalist and they are all forwards -- Jeremy Boyce-Rotevall, William Karlsson, Rickard Rakell, Sebastian Collberg, Victor Rask and captain Filip Forsberg.
Sweden has won six of seven meetings between the two teams over the past five years.
There are eight returnees for Russia, including goalies Andrey Makarov and Andrei Vasilevskiy, two defensemen, and five forwards. Makarov was between the pipes and played wonderfully for Russia during last year's gold-medal game loss to Sweden. The Russian offense has been led by Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov, who has five goals and seven points. Kucherov also scored the clincher in the 4-3 shootout victory against Switzerland in the quarterfinals Wednesday.
Here are the projected lineups for the game:
Victor Rask - Jacob de la Rose - Nick Sorensen
Tom Nilsson - Mikael Vikstrand
Rasmus Bengtsson - Robert Hagg
Emil Djuse - Linus Arnesson
Christian Djoos - Jeremy Boyce Rotevall
Vladimir Tkachev - Valeri Nichushkin - Yaroslav Kosov
Yevgeni Mozer - Andrei Sigarev - Daniil Zharkov
Kirill Dyakov - Yaroslav Dyblenko
Andrei Mironov - Pavel Koledov
Andrei Vasilevskiy gets the start in goal with Andrey Makarov serving as the backup.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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