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Kaprizov and Kahkonen To Play For Junior Gold

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

Goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen (2014 Draft, fourth round) stopped 21 shots as Finland defeated Sweden 2-1 in the semifinals of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Finland, the host country, advances to play Russia in the championship game on Tuesday.

Kahkonen has taken over in goal for Finland since midway though its quarterfinal game against Canada. After starting one of Finland's four games in the group stage — earning an 8-3 victory against Slovakia — Kahkonen was called on during the second period against Canada.

Trailing 3-2 when he entered, Finland came back to win 6-5. Since then, Kahkonen has stopped 43 of the 46 shots he faced, helping Finland eliminate both Canada, a tournament favorite, and Sweden, the only team that had won all of its games in the tournament in regulation.

Finland fell behind again on Monday after Kahkonen allowed a goal 10:17 into the first period, but that was all Sweden would get offensively. The 19-year-old goalie shut the door from there, and Finland conceded 10 shots on goal over the final two periods.

Sweden forward Joel Eriksson Ek (2015 Draft, first round) was held scoreless, and has a goal in five games played for Sweden. He had two of Sweden's 22 shots on Monday, and has taken 21 shots on goal in the tournament, second on Sweden.

In the other semifinal, forward Kirill Kaprizov (2015 Draft, fifth round) and Russia defeated defenseman Louis Belpedio (2014 Draft, third round) and the United States 2-1.

Kaprizov took a game-high nine shots on goal, equaling his total in the first five games he played at World Juniors. Belpedio, is serving as an alternate captain for the United States, had two shots on goal in the loss.

The United States will play Sweden in the bronze medal game at 8 a.m. Central time on Tuesday. Russia and Finland play for gold at 12:30 p.m. Central time. Both games will be televised on NHL Network.

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