Sweden have stunned Russia midway through the extra period to clinch the gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Canada.
Just as at their first meeting at the tournament, regulation time wasn’t enough to decide the better side. However this time around, the Swedes looked fresher and more offensively aggressive. They outshot Russia 39-4 during the first two periods as goalie Andrey Makarov looked the only visible figure among the Russians helping his team to tuck into a goalless draw.
The holders woke up in the third period and were close to winning the battle of nerves in the regulation, but their captain Evgeny Kuznetsov’s shot hit the bar before sliding away inches from the goal line.
The game was decided in overtime, when Mika Zibanejad stole the puck from Nikita Gusev at the blue line, broke in on Makarov, who had made 57 saves, and scored on a backhand killer.
Consequently, Sweden clinched the gold to repeat their success of 1981.
In the third-place game, Mark Visentin stopped a second-period penalty shot and made 27 saves in Canada’s 4-0 victory over Finland. Quinton Howden scored twice, and Tanner Pearson and Mark Scheifele made their contribution.
The only conciliation for the Russian fans on the night was Evgeny Kuznetsov being voted the tournament’s MVP. The forward led the 2012 U20 with 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists). In addition, he was named Best Forward of the event. Canada’s Brandon Gormley was named Best Defenceman and Czech Petr Mrazek Best Goalie.
The championships now go from western Canada to the most easterly city ever in a U20 World Championship – Ufa, the capital of the Russian republic of Bashkortostan, with one million inhabitants. Hosts Russia will play both teams from North America – Canada and the US – in its group along with Slovakia and the promoted team, Germany. Reigning champion Sweden will test archrival Finland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Latvia in the other group.