The first day of the IIHF World Under-18 Championships in Belarus saw two of the favorites, the U.S. and Canada, suffer upsets. The U.S., which won the gold medal last year, lost 4-2 to Sweden, while Canada was beaten 3-1 by Switzerland.
Chase Balisy and Brandon Saad gave the U.S. a 2-0 lead 2:24 into the second period, but the defending champs -- led by goaltender Jack Campbell
, NHL Central Scouting's No. 2-rated netminder for the 2010 Entry Draft -- couldn't hold it.
Sweden captain Johan Larsson
, No. 34 on Central Scouting's final ranking of European skaters, scored a power-play goal in the second. The U.S. had a chance to add to its lead early in the third, but couldn't score after a slashing penalty assessed to Ludvig Rensfeldt
. Moments after Rensfeldt's penalty ended, Henri Snall tied the game 6:29 into the third. Then Larsson scored again just 2:45 later when he tipped a point shot by Petter Granberg
past Campbell's blocker. He added an empty-net goal in the game's final seconds to complete the hat trick.
"Obviously we're disappointed with the result, especially since we were in a position to get it done with a 2-0 lead," U.S. coach Kurt Kleinendorst
told USA Hockey's Web site. "To not get it done is difficult, but this is one game and it's a long tournament. We'll have to regroup tomorrow. It's time to push back."
The U.S. next plays Switzerland on Wednesday.
In the other surprise outcome, Switzerland took an early lead on goals by Gregory Hoffman and Samuel Guerra.
Moose Jaw Warriors center Quinton Howden
, No. 19 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, scored 9:41 into the second period to make it a one-goal game, but Joel Vermin scored an empty-net goal for the final margin.
"It's a bump in the road and hopefully we can find a way to get back," Team Canada coach Guy Carbonneau
said. "It took us a period to really find our legs. We played a little bit better at the end but I don't think it was the effort that we wanted to have in the first game."
Canada is off until Thursday, when it faces host Belarus.
In other action Wednesday, Finland beat Latvia 7-2, behind 2 goals and 2 assists by Teemu Pulkkinen
, No. 17 on Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters, and four assists by top-rated international skater Mikael Granlund
Russia, last year's silver medalist, beat the Czech Republic, 4-2.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org