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Sweden bests rival Finland to top Group A

by Adam Kimelman

Sweden clinched the top spot in Group A and a bye into the semifinals with a 7-4 victory against Finland on the final day of preliminary-round play at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Viktor Arvidsson scored twice and added an assist and Alexander Wennberg had a goal and an assist. Sweden, the defending gold medalists, next will face the winner of the quarterfinal match between Russia and Switzerland in the semifinals on Thursday.

"Right now, we haven't won anything," Sweden captain Filip Forsberg told "We're just going to go out in the semis and hunt for the final spot. It's no big deal to calm our guys down."

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(Medal Round Replays To Be Announced)
Wed Jan. 2 4:00 AM USA vs. CZE 5:30 PM
Wed Jan. 2 8:00 AM RUS vs. SUI 8:00 PM
Thurs Jan. 3 4:00 AM TBD 5:30 PM
Thurs Jan. 3 8:00 AM TBD 8:00 PM
Sat Jan. 5 4:00 AM TBD 5:30 PM
Sat Jan 5 8:00 AM TBD 8:00 PM

Joel Armia scored twice for Finland, which finished fourth in its group and slips to the relegation round after entering the tournament considered by many a contender for a medal.

The wild game between the natural rivals saw Sweden take a 3-0 lead 13:42 into the game on goals power-play goals by Wennberg and Victor Rask, sandwiched around an even-strength goal by Robert Haag.

"The first 20 minutes were the best we've played in this tournament so far," Sweden coach Roger Ronnberg told "Maybe the level we have to play on if we should survive the semis."

Finland scored three straight power-play goals of its own, first by Armia at 16:42 of the first, then one by Rasmus Ristolainen 1:26 into the second. After back-to-back penalties by Sweden's Mikael Wikstrand and Jacob de la Rose gave Finland a 5-on-3 advantage, Armia scored to tie the game 3-3 at 3:55 of the second.

Arvidsson and Forsberg scored 44 seconds apart late in the second to put Sweden ahead for good at 5-3.

"We tried to have a good start, but we had the opposite," Armia told "It's so hard to win the game when the other team is three goals ahead."

Finland got one goal back when Ville Jarvelainen scored 10:40 into the third, but 5-4 was as close as the Finns would get. Emil Molin scored a power-play goal to make it 6-4, and Arvidsson's empty-net goal with 59 seconds remaining closed the scoring.

Finland's next game will be Wednesday against Germany in the relegation pool. They'll also play Slovakia.

"I am so depressed and disappointed," Finland coach Harri Rindell told "This is a new experience … an awful one. But you need to go through these things, too, and look forward. I am so sad just for the moment. Because we were so close -- so close in many games."

In the other game in Group A on Monday, Tomas Hertl scored 1:39 into overtime as the Czech Republic beat Switzerland 4-3.

Dmitrij Jaskin sent a pass off the back boards to Hertl, who quickly came off the goal line to tuck the puck past Swiss goalie Melvin Nyffeler.

The win pushed the Czechs into second in Group A, and a quarterfinal date with the United States on Wednesday.

"It was the most important game, because we were playing for everything," Czech defenseman David Musil told "If we won, we'd make the playoffs."

With the point gained from their third overtime/shootout loss and Finland's loss to Sweden, Switzerland finished third in the group and will play Russia in the other quarterfinal Wednesday.

"I'm very proud that we could take all three of those teams [Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic] to overtime," Switzerland coach Sean Simpson told "There was a little bit of bad luck. How often does a team play three games in a row, go to overtime three times, and lose three times?"

The teams traded goals in the first, but the Czech Republic took a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes of play on goals by Michal Svihalek and Tomas Hyka.

Switzerland's Christoph Bertschy scored a 4-on-3 power-play goal 11:45 into the third period to make it a one-goal game. After a penalty to the Czech's Marek Hrbas gave Switzerland a late power play, Dario Simion scored at 17:59 to tie the game.

The winning goal came on the only shot of overtime.

Czech Republic goalie Patrik Bartosak had 26 saves, while Nyffeler stopped 27 of 31 shots.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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