Left wing William Nylander-Altelius, considered one of the top five European prospects available in the 2014 NHL Draft, scored the decisive goal early in the third period to help lead the Swedish Under-18 Select Team to a 4-3 victory over Canada in preliminary-round action at the 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka on Tuesday in Breclav, Czech Republic.
The victory moves Sweden into a tie with Canada (one win apiece, three points) in Group A. Canada will resume action on Wednesday against Switzerland at 9:30 a.m. ET on the final day of preliminary-round action, while Sweden battles Czech Republic at 1 p.m. ET.
Canada pared the deficit to 3-2 on a power-play goal by Sam Bennett of the Ontario Hockey League's Kingston Frontenacs just 3:54 into the third. Bennett, who had 18 goals and 40 points in 60 games in 2012-13, is regarded as one of several Kingston prospects high on everyone's board for the 2014 draft. The 6-foot, 178-pound left-handed shot was named Canada's player of the game.
The Swedes answered right back with a power-play goal of their own when Nylander-Altelius, the son of former NHL center Michael Nylander, converted a wrist shot at the 6:09 mark.
Less than a minute later, a collision in front of Sweden's net left starting goalie Jesper Eriksson in serious pain. The 5-foot-11, 172-pounder, who was named the team's most valuable player for the game, was eventually taken off the ice via a stretcher and replaced by Linus Soderstrom.
Swedish defenceman Gustav Forsling was whistled for tripping on the play, giving Canada a man advantage. The Canadians then pulled to within 4-3 when Kingston's Spencer Watson connected on the power play just 1:10 after the penalty. It was the first shot taken on Soderstrom.
But the Swedish goalie would settle down to make a few big saves down the stretch. Watson would later be issued a major penalty and game misconduct for kneeing Sweden's Gustav Franzen with just 1:13 remaining in regulation. The penalty gave Sweden a man advantage, but Canada pulled its goalie to create a 5-on-5 situation in an attempt to even the game. The Swedes wouldn't be denied their first win of the tournament, however.
After spotting Canada a 1-0 lead early in the first period, Sweden connected for three straight goals. Kevin Elgestal's second of the game just 1:01 into the second off a scramble in front gave the Swedes a 3-1 lead. Elgestal, a 6-foot, 172-pound right wing, was identified on NHL Central Scouting's Futures List as a potential first-, second- or third-round candidate for the 2014 draft. He currently stars for Frolunda HC in Sweden.
Sweden, desperate for a win after suffering a 3-2 regulation loss to Switzerland on Monday, pulled into a 1-1 tie 6:17 into the first when forward Robin Kovacs beat starting goalie Mason McDonald on a wrist shot from the right circle. Elgestal gave Sweden a 2-1 lead off a scramble in the slot at the 8:07 mark. Following the Elgestal goal, Canada coach Dale Hunter replaced McDonald with Julio Billia.
Billia, who made 13 saves in earning a 4-0 victory over the Czech Republic on Monday, would make several big stops to keep Canada within striking distance.
The Canadians had taken a 1-0 lead 3:14 into the first when Jared McCann of the Ontario Hockey League's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds took a feed in the slot before backhanding a shot past Eriksson.
The top two teams from Group A and Group B will cross over for the semifinals on Friday before the gold-medal and bronze-medal games scheduled Saturday.
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer