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U.S. tops Canada to earn World U-18 semifinal bye

by Adam Kimelman /

Seth Jones scored 5:10 into the third period Tuesday to snap a 2-2 tie and spark the U.S. to a 5-3 win against Canada and a spot in the semifinals at the 2012 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in the Czech Republic.

In a game played at Kajot Arena in Brno, Riley Barber, Matt Grzelcyk, Frank Vatrano and Matt Lane also scored for the U.S. Goalie Collin Olson, who entered having not surrendered a goal in his first three games, stopped 26 of 29 shots.

Olson went more than 10 periods without allowing a goal in the tournament. He's No. 21 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goaltenders for the 2012 NHL Draft.

Jones, Olson's teammate on the U.S. National Team Development Program's under-18 team, is considered a candidate to be the first player selected at the 2013 draft.

The win clinched first place in Group A for the U.S., the three-time defending champions, who advance to the semifinals on Friday.

"Our coach told us to just keep playing at the second intermission," Jones told the IIHF website. "One of our mottoes is to win the third period, so we really try to work on that and to outwork teams for the full 60 minutes, and I think we accomplished that."

Hunter Shinkaruk and team captain Mathew Dumba each had a goal and an assist for Canada in the loss, while goalie Matt Murray stopped 36 of 40 shots.

After a scoreless first period, Shinkaruk, a center with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League and a top 2013 draft prospect, opened the scoring with a power-play goal 2:45 into the second.

Just 28 seconds later, though, Branden Troock was sent off for elbowing, and Grzelcyk scored late in the power play to even the game.

A penalty to Ryan Hartman of the U.S. allowed Dumba to score a power-play goal at the midway point of the period to put Canada back ahead, but a penalty on Canada's Kerby Rychel for checking from behind allowed the U.S. to tie it late in the period on Barber's power-play goal.

"I thought we gave them some life with the power play in the second period," Canada coach Jesse Wallin said. "We took an unnecessary penalty with the check from behind and it hurt us to lose Rychel for 10 minutes. It wasn't for a lack of effort but it looked like guys were trying to do too much."

Jones and Vatrano scored even-strength goals 1:29 apart to put the U.S. up 4-2, and after Canada's Ryan Pulock scored with 4:54 left to make it a one-goal game, Lane scored into an empty net with 33 seconds remaining to close the scoring.

With the loss, Canada next plays Russia in a quarterfinal-round game Thursday at Alcaplast Arena in Breclav.

"I think today was still our best game of the tournament so far and we've been getting progressively better," said Wallin. "We were right there to the end and there were a lot of positives that we can take from that game."

Sweden, led by its top two prospects for the 2012 draft, beat Russia 2-0 to clinch Group B and a bye into the semifinals.

In a game played at Zimni Stadion in Znojmo, Filip Forsberg -- rated by NHL Central Scouting as the No. 1 European skater available for the 2012 draft -- had a pair of goals, and goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped all 28 shots he faced in the win.

Dansk is No. 2 on Central Scouting's final ranking of European goalies. Russia's Andrei Vasilevski, who had 40 saves on 42 shots, is No. 1 on the list.

Forsberg's goals came 2:47 apart in the first period. Just 6:05 into the game, his backhander went off the crossbar and in, and at 8:47, with Sweden on the power play, Forsberg dragged the puck past a Russia defender and put the puck between Vasilevski's pads.

Dansk made the lead hold up, even as Russia outshot Sweden in the third period, 12-11. Sweden had outshot Russia 31-16 through two periods.

"We knew that they have some skill guys and that we had to work hard to take away the middle of the ice," Forsberg told the IIHF website. "That's where they like to score, and I think we did a great job of taking them out of that area and our defense was able to get out and block a lot of shots. Overall we did a perfect job in our own zone."

The victory gave Sweden the top spot in Group B and a bye into the tournament semifinals, which will be played April 20.

In the other game played at Kajot Arena, Finland's Rasmus Kulmala had a hat trick to help Finland to a 6-2 win against the Czech Republic.

Kulmala, a center with TPS in Finland's junior league, is No. 27 on Central Scouting's final ranking of European skaters.

Kulmala scored twice in the first period as Finland outshot the Czechs 15-6. For the game, goalie Joonas Korpisalo made 26 saves on 28 shots. He's No. 3 on Central Scouting's final ranking of European goalies.

Finland will face Germany in a quarterfinal-round game Thursday, at Alcaplast Arena.

In the final preliminary-round game, Germany scored four times in the first period and cruised to a 6-2 victory against Switzerland at Ziminy Stadion. Leon Draitsaitl had two goals and an assist to lead Germany.

Switzerland joins the Czech Republic, Latvia and Denmark in the relegation round.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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