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Sweden advances to semifinals at world junior hockey tournament @NHLdotcom

REGINA - Sweden hopes the new year starts like 2009 ended.

Jacob Markstrom made 39 saves to help Sweden advance to the semifinals with a 7-1 shelling of Finland at the world junior hockey championship Thursday. Jacob Josefson scored twice, and Andre Petersson, Dennis Rasmussen, Mattias Tedenby, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and Marcus Johansson also scored for the Swedes, who won't play again until Sunday in Saskatoon.

But it was Markstrom, the Swede's player of the game, who this time frustrated the Finns in an otherwise exceptional effort.

"He's one of the best goalie's in Sweden. You have to be really good to score on him," said coach Par Marts.

Rivals Sweden (3-0) and Finland (2-1) entered the first place showdown following dominating performances against the Czechs, Russians and Austrians earlier in the round robin.

The only blemish on Finland's record was a 2-0 loss to Russia, a game in which the Finns outplayed and outshot the Russians but couldn't beat goalie Igor Bobkov.

Finland dominated the first period, holding Sweden to just three shots while pounding Markstrom with 26 shots. But near the end of the period, a careless Finn turnover to one of the tournament's top goal scorers proved costly.

Petersson, an Ottawa Senators draft pick, snatched the puck at centre ice, worked his way over the Finn blue-line and fired a quick wrist shot between the Finn defenders and over Joni Ortio's blocker shoulder. The unassisted effort was Petersson's fifth of the tournament.

"First period we were outplayed, totally," said Paajarvi-Svensson. "Still, we were up 1-0 thanks to Markstrom, he was unbelievable the first period."

Markstrom said his team's bad beginning didn't worry him.

"It was a good start for me. I got a lot of shots and I felt good out there and I really enjoy it actually," the six-foot-three Florida Panther pick said.

"That's what I'm there for. I don't think a lot, I just go out there and try and take the puck. It's the best thing."

Sweden poured it on with three second-period goals, the first of which came after another bad Finnish turnover.

Breaking out of his own end, Eero Elo inexplicably threw the puck in front of his own net, right onto the stick of Swede Daniel Brodin. The undrafted 19-year-old fed Rasmussen who slid it between Ortio's pads.

Tedenby then made it 3-0 with highlight reel effort, splitting the defence and ripping a backhand past Ortio.

With just eight seconds to go in the period, Josefson batted in a rebound Ortio couldn't handle.

Sweden added three more in the third, the first coming just over a minute in when Paajarvi-Svensson went end-to-end and fired a wrist shot past Petteri Simila, who replaced Ortio to start the third.

Josefson and Johansson rounded out the scoring for the Swedes.

Hartikainen managed to break Markstrom's shutout bid early in the period.

"Everyone was shell-shocked the last two periods. First period was good, but everything after that is not a Happy New Year," a dejected Hartikaninen said after the game.

Finland will play in the quarter-finals Saturday.

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