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Sweden ready for New Year's clash with Canada @NHL
Sweden stayed on pace for a New Year's Eve showdown with Canada for first place in Group B with a 6-3 defeat of the Czech Republic on Thursday in a game played at Dwyer Arena on the campus of Niagara University.

Jesper Fasth scored twice and Calle Jarnkrok had a goal and 2 assists. Johan Larsson, Sebastian Wannstrom and Max Friberg also scored for Sweden.

Martin Frk scored twice for Czech Republic, Michal Hlinka had a goal and team captain Jakub Jerabek had a pair of assists.

Hlinka's power-play goal 3:09 into the game put the Czechs ahead, but Sweden scored the next five to take control. Larsson's power-play goal started the run, and then Friberg and Fasth scored 1:10 apart late in the first to make it 3-1 after one.

Wannstrom, a St. Louis Blues prospect, scored 4:59 into the second to make it 4-1, and Fasth, a New York Rangers prospect, scored his second of the game to make it 5-1.

That's when Frk, a potential top pick for the 2012 Entry Draft currently starring with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, took over, scoring twice to make it a 5-3 after two periods.

"We lost something when we led 5-1," Fasth told reporters. "We lost focus or humbleness or both. But we came back and won and that was the main thing."

Jarnkrok's goal 5:48 into the third made it 6-3, and goalie Fredrik Petersson-Wentzel stopped all four shots in the third to preserve the victory.

Sweden goes into Friday's final day of preliminary action against Canada (4 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN) with a shot at first place in Group B and a bye into the tournament semifinals.

The Czech Republic plays Russia on Friday, with the winner going on to the medal round and the loser sent to relegation play.

Switzerland 6, Slovakia 4 -- Samuel Walser scored the game-winning goal with 5:54 left in the third period to guarantee Switzerland a spot in the medal round for the second straight year.

Nino Niederreiter, Gregory Hoffman, Sven Baertschi, Inti Pestoni and Dominik Schlumpf also had goals for Switzerland.
Michael Vandas had 3 assists for Slovakia, and Richard Panik, Andrej Stastny, Marek Hrivik and Peter Sisovski each had a goal.

"Everyone played well, and this was a huge win for us," said Switzerland captain Nino Niederreiter. "It was a fun game to play, but not so much in the third period, when we let them back into the game."

Niederreiter, who started the season in the NHL with the New York Islanders, scored midway through the second to give Switzerland a 4-2 lead.

Stastny scored 5:30 into the period to make it a one-goal game, and with 7:52 left in regulation, Panik the team captain and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect, beat Switzerland goalie Benjamin Conz to the short side off the rush to tie the game.

"The coach just told us to stay patient and keep shooting the puck on goal," Switzerland defenseman Luca Camperchioli said. "We knew we could still win the game. That was the only thing we cared about."

That's what they did when Walser knocked in the rebound of a Yannick Herren shot to put Switzerland ahead. Pestoni scored into an empty net for the final margin.

Switzerland still has a shot to win Group A and earn a bye into the semifinals if they beat the U.S. Friday (8 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) and Slovakia beats Finland.

After Slovakia plays Finland, they'll go into the relegation pool, starting against Norway on Jan. 2.

Russia 8, Norway 2 -- Thanks to five third-period goals, Russia survived a scare from Norway to win its first game of the tournament.

A pair of 2010 first-round Entry Draft picks, Vladimir Tarasenko (Blues) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (Capitals) each had a goal and an assist to lead Russia.

Daniil Sobchenko scored twice, Nikita Dvurechensky had a goal and 2 assists and Maxim Kitsyn, Artim Voronin and Andrei Sergeyev each had a goal.

Jonas Oppoyen and Nicholas Weberg scored for Norway. Goalie Lars Volden stopped 47 of 55 shots, including 29 of 30 in the second period.

The game was tied 2-2 after one period when Russia went ahead for good on Tarasenko's power-play goal 4:03 into the second.

Russia came out flying to start the third, with Sobchenko scoring his second of the game just 18 seconds in.

Russia scored four more times in the next 5:08 to put the game away and move into Friday's preliminary-round finale against the Czech Republic with a chance to move into the medal round. A loss would drop into relegation play.

Norway finishes preliminary-round play 0-4 and was outscored 27-4. They'll open relegation play Jan. 2 against Slovakia.
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