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Swedes dominate Slovakia in 9-1 win

by Aaron Vickers
CALGARY -- The Swedes came, saw and conquered Slovakia.

Sweden did what was expected, handing Slovakia a crushing 9-1 defeat in the World Junior Championship at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Friday night.

Taking a 4-1 lead into the third period, Sweden ensured there would be no collapse after adding five more goals over the course of the final 20 minutes to move to 3-0-0 on the tournament and ensure an important date on New Year's Eve with Russia.

"I think it's our best game for the tournament," Swedish coach Roger Ronnberg said. "We get better with every game. I'm pretty pleased. It's going to be a heck of a game (against Russia)."

Outshot 55-15 in the contest, Slovakia wasn't happy with its performance heading into Saturday's crucial game against Switzerland.

"The result is how the team played," Slovakia coach Ernest Bokros said through a translator. "We didn't skate that well. The discipline was lacking. We had to kill eight penalties. It’s almost a suicide taking eight penalties against a team as good as Sweden."

Martin Marincin, in his third World Juniors with Slovakia, agreed.

"It was bad, a very bad game," Marincin said. "I don't know. We didn't skate. We made no good passes. We made no good plays in the offensive zone. We need to play better in the defensive zone."

In all, seven Swedish scorers lit the lamp in the game. It's the balanced attack Sweden is hoping to bring to Saturday's clash with Russia.

"We have four really good lines that can produce and play in the offensive zone and score," Mika Zibanejad said. "That's why the goals came and the results came."

Zibanejad gave Sweden a 5-1 edge 4:50 into the final period on the power play. After fanning on his initial shot, Zibanejad gathered a Sebastian Collberg rebound and beat Slovak starter Dominik Riecicky.

Dominating the play over the final 20 minutes, William Karlsson nearly made it a five-goal spread 40 seconds later. Breaking into the zone on a partial breakaway, Karlsson put the puck between his legs and flicked a shot that was stopped by the pad of Riecicky.

Slovakia couldn't hold Sweden at bay for long.

Rickard Rackell beat Riecicky to give Sweden a 6-1 edge at 11:54, dancing around defenseman Adam Janosik in the corner and working his way out front before finding the back of the net. Just over three minutes later, Joakim Nordstrom added his third of the tournament to make it 7-1.

Collberg, with his second of the game on a two-man advantage, made it 8-1 at 13:42. Erik Thorell, also with his second, capped Sweden's scoring at 18:42.

From the onset of the game, Sweden took it to Slovakia.

They opened the scoring 4:40 into the game, just six seconds after a boarding penalty to Tomas Jurco expired. With Jurco barely back into the play, Thorell poked a loose puck in the crease through the legs of Riecicky just over the goal line.

Marek Tvrdon responded for Slovakia with his second of the tournament at 11:36. After taking a pass from Michal Toman on an odd-man rush, Tvdon skated in and rifled a shot over the glove of Anton Forsberg to even the score 1-1.

Sweden would add another before the period was out courtesy of Max Friberg. Friberg added his sixth goal of the tournament, converting a feed from a crease scramble via Johan Larsson with 3:38 remaining in the opening period to put Sweden up 2-1 at the first intermission.

Sweden continued to roll in a penalty-filled second period.

Collberg finished off a nifty three-way passing play from Larsson and Johan Sundstrom at 4:15, depositing the puck into a near-empty net from the slot.

Sundstrom then got on the board with his first of the tournament before the period was out. Sundstrom redirected a Rakell point shot over the glove of Riecicky with 1:31 remaining in the second to give Sweden the 4-1 edge they took into the third.

Sweden will now turn its attention to Russia on New Year's Eve in a battle for first place in Group A and the right to a bye into the semifinal.

With Team USA's loss to the Czech Republic earlier Friday, Canada has clinched Group B's semifinal appearance.

Did Sweden's rout of Slovakia instill a bit of fear into the Russians? You'll have to ask them, Zibanejad said.

"It's hard to say," he said. "We are ready for the game tomorrow."

Friberg, whose 6 goals are tied for the tournament lead with Canadian forward Mark Stone, is hoping it did.

"(We) try to play our best every game but of course I hope we get them a little terrified with the way we played today," he said.

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