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Dansk shines as Sweden moves on to play for gold

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets



Oscar Dansk has been the No. 1 goaltender for one of junior hockey's best teams this season, and he was a star today in a big spot for his home country.

Facing a Russian team ripe with confidence after beating the United States in the quarterfinal, the Swedes had their hands full on home ice and definitely felt the pressure in today's semifinal match-up. It was a high-octane, intense hockey game all the way through, with Sweden holding a 2-0 lead early in the third period before Russia cut into it.

And what a dramatic third period it was.

Malmo Arena was rocking all throughout the game, and during a pressure-packed third period, the atmosphere was even better. Not even two minutes after Swedish forward Oskar Sundqvist converted a great pass from Erik Karlsson on a breakaway to make it 2-0, the Russians had an answer and the tone of the game took a violent turn.

Damir Zhafyarov's goal made it 2-1 in a flash and it was Dansk's only mistake of the day. The bad-angle shot seemed to surprise Dansk, who was in good position at the post, but the puck rode up his stick and fluttered into the net. A bad break for the Swedes and some good fortune for Russia made for a frantic finish - but the Swedes were up to the task.

Dansk was excellent and did his best work in the third period,

With 1:10 to play and Sweden hanging on to a one-goal lead, the Russians pulled goaltender Andrei Vasilevski for an extra attacker and then got a power play with 19 seconds left. They got a couple late chances but Sweden emerged with a chance to win World Junior gold on home ice for the first time ever.

Now, Sweden awaits the winner of the second semifinal between Canada and Finland, which features Blue Jackets prospects Kerby Rychel and Josh Anderson playing for the Canadians.

If Canada advances, the World Junior gold medal game would feature four Blue Jackets prospects all selected in the last two NHL Drafts.

NOTE: Sweden's coaching staff selected Alexander Wennberg as one of its top three players of the tournament, along with Filip Forsberg and Andreas Johnson.

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