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Strong finish for U.S. at World U-18s; Canada struggles

by Adam Kimelman
The U.S. ended preliminary-round play at the World Under-18 Championship in Germany in style on Tuesday, while Canada suffered its first loss and missed on a chance to earn a bye to the semifinals.
Reid Boucher, the hero of Sunday's last-minute win against Russia, scored a pair of goals, and top 2011 Entry Draft prospects Jonathan Miller and Rocco Grimaldi had a goal and 2 assists each to lead the U.S. to a 7-3 victory against host Germany at Crimmitschau Arena.
Boucher now is tied for second at the tournament with 5 goals in four games.
Miller, No. 23 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2011 Entry Draft, opened the scoring 62 seconds into the game, and Boucher, No. 113 on Central Scouting's list, added his first of the game midway through the period. Both goals were set up by Grimaldi, No. 32 on Central Scouting's list.
Germany got within a goal at 3-2, but the U.S. scored three times in a nine-minute span late in the second to put the game away.
"We were fortunate to jump out early in the game in front of such a large home crowd," U.S. coach Ron Rolston told USA Hockey's website. "The best six teams are now moving on and we are looking forward to the final games of the tournament."
The U.S. finished first in Group A and advances directly to Saturday's semifinals.
Canada saw its chance of winning Group B and joining the U.S. in the semifinals disappear in a third period that saw them surrender a 2-0 lead in a 4-2 loss to Sweden, at EnergieVerbund Arena in Dresden.
Nick Cousins and Ryan Murphy, No. 10 on Central Scouting's ranking, staked Canada to a 2-0 lead 1:47 into the third period. That's where things fell apart for Canada as Linus Froberg scored just 17 seconds later, and then Sweden went ahead with a pair of goals 38 seconds apart late in the period. Oscar Klefbom, No. 6 on Central Scouting's final ranking of European skaters, scored the go-ahead goal. Joachim Nermark closed the scoring with an empty-net goal.
The win gives Sweden the top spot in Group B and a bye into Saturday's semifinals.
"You can call it a learning lesson, a reality check, whatever you want, bottom line is there's some good hockey players and good hockey teams over here," Canada coach Mike Williamson told the Canadian Press. "There's one way we're going to win and one way only and that's the physical, aggressive, Canadian-type of game and we didn't do that for 60 minutes today."
Malcolm Subban, younger brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, stopped 32 of 35 shots in Canada's net.
Canada next faces Germany in one of Thursday's quarterfinals. The other will see Russia face Finland.
Russia closed preliminary-round play with an 8-3 rout of Switzerland. Nikita Kucherov, No. 17 on Central Scouting's final ranking of European skaters, had 3 goals and 2 assists in the win, and his 8 goals and 15 points lead the tournament.
Two prospects for the 2012 Entry Draft also had big days. Mikhail Grigorenko had 2 goals and 4 assists and Nail Yakupov -- who plays for the Sarnia Sting in the Ontario Hockey League, had a goal and 4 assists. Russia led 4-0 after one period and outshot Switzerland 49-23 for the game.
In the day's other game, Finland rallied to beat the Czech Republic 5-3. Joel Armia, No. 4 on Central Scouting's list of European skaters, scored to tie the game with 5:17 left in the third period, and then 33 seconds later Toni Kallela, No. 73 on Central Scouting's European list, put Finland ahead.
The winners of the quarterfinals advance to Saturday's semifinals. The gold- and bronze-medal games will be Sunday.
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