Two Blackhawks prospects claimed medal positions with their teams today, as Sweden defeated Russia 2-1 in a tightly contested and highly entertaining semifinal match, and Finland shut down Team Canada with a 5-1 result. The tournament in Malmo, Sweden, will conclude tomorrow with a grudge match between the hosts and their Nordic next-door neighbors.
Russia was one of the competition's highest-scoring squads, and outshot the home side 27-21 in the game, but goals by Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg and Oskar Sundqvist (a Pittsburgh draft pick in 2012) gave Sweden all the offense they would need. The Russians closed the gap with a goal in the third period, but could not find an equalizer. The game grew testy in the closing minutes, and a postgame scrum erupted that could lead to suspensions for both teams in the gold-medal and bronze-medal games.
The Finns were considered to be massive underdogs, facing the star power of Canada in the semifinals, but the pre-tournament favorites were stifled by Finnish goalie Jusse Saros (NSH, 2013) and a tenacious defense, which limited Canada to 24 shots—including just 14 in the first two periods. The Canadians ran into penalty trouble in the second period, with two players registering separate 10-minute misconducts, and Finland ran ahead with three goals in that period. A penalty-shot goal and an empty-netter—both scored by captain and Chicago prospect Teuvo Teravainen—sealed the 5-1 victory, one of the biggest upsets of this year's competition.
Tomorrow, they play for gold. Sweden will look to reprise their 2011 World Juniors victory on home ice; and Finland, though they have already exceeded expectations by securing their first U20 medal since 2006, will try to defy the odds one last time.
Teuvo Teravainen (FIN): Teravainen chose the right game to collect his first goal of the competition. In the second period, he extended his tournament assists lead with his 10th helper on a power-play goal that stood up as the game-winner. In the third, with Henrik Haapala (Tappara, SM-liiga) unable to take a penalty shot, Teravainen stepped up and lifted a backhand shot above Canadian goalie Zach Fucale (MTL, 2013). Then, with Fucale pulled, Teravainen slapped in an empty-netter for this third point of the game. He shares the tournament lead with 12 points in six games and paces all skaters with 10 assists and 85 faceoff wins (on 165 total draws).
Robin Norell (SWE): The defenseman and his blue-line partner Robert Haag (PHI, 2013) were tasked with shutting down Russia's top line and did so admirably, both at even strength and on the penalty kill. Norell notched one shot on goal in the third period and now has five shots in six games.