Nolan Kaiser’s power play goal five minutes into the third period was the difference as Canada West kept its chance for a fifth-straight World Junior A Challenge gold medal game appearance alive with a 3-2 quarter-final win over Sweden on Thursday night.
Kaiser’s goal came just five seconds into a Canadian power play – a WJAC record – and earned West the win in a game it was outshot 33-22. Matthew Krahn was spectacular in the Canadian goal, making 31 saves.
The win moves Canada West into the semifinals on Saturday (7:30 p.m. PT), where it will face the United States in a rematch of the last two gold medal games. In the other semi, Canada East will face Switzerland (4 p.m. PT).
After a scoreless first period – one in which the Canadians were outshot 12-6 – the Swedes hit the scoreboard first on a power play at 8:32 of the second when Linus Hultstrom snuck a shot past Krahn from a sharp angle, but Canada West pulled even just 2:07 later, the puck deflecting off the skate of Dylan Walchuk after a set up from captain Clarke Breitkreuz.
The two teams played a wild final minute of the middle frame. First, Canadian defenceman Ben Gallacher pounced on a loose puck in the Swedish crease, poking home the 2-1 goal on the power play at 19:08. Just 40 seconds later, however, Swedish forward Sebastian Dyk beat Krahn on a shorthanded breakaway, sending the game to the second intermission at 2-2.
Outshot 28-16 through two periods, Canada West retook the lead early in the third when Kaiser’s point shot eluded Swedish goaltender Jonas Gunnarsson, who made 19 saves in a losing cause.
With Gunnarsson on the bench and Breitkreuz in the penalty box for the final 45 seconds, the Swedes buzzed the Canadian goal, but could not get the tying goal past Krahn or the West defence.
The loss sends Sweden to the fifth-place game for the second year in a row; it will face Russia on Friday night (7:30 p.m. PT).
Matthew Peca and Evan Rodrigues scored 42 seconds apart late in the second period to give Canada East a 4-0 lead, and the Canadians held off a late rally to score a 4-3 quarter-final win over Russia on Thursday and advance to the semifinals at the 2010 World Junior A Challenge.
Canada East will face Group B winner Switzerland in a final four match-up on Saturday.
Matt Chiarantano and Zach Hyman also scored for Canada East, which advanced to the semifinals for the fifth time in as many appearances at the tournament, while the Russians, bronze medallists last year in Summerside, P.E.I., will play for fifth place on Friday night (7:30 p.m. PT) against the loser of Thursday’s late quarter-final between Canada West and Sweden.
The Canadian side caught an early break to open the scoring, as Chiarantano’s shorthanded clearing attempt from his own zone hit a partition on the glass and skipped past Russian goaltender Denis Perevozchikov.
Hyman made it 2-0 early in the second period, slipping a backhand behind Perevozchikov, and Peca and Rodrigues gave the Canadians a seemingly commanding lead with goals less than a minute apart, chasing Perevozchikov from the goal.
But the Russian comeback started at 17:53 with a Roman Konkov goal, and Mikhail Grigorenko scored 26 seconds into the third period and again at 8:20 to make it a one-goal game and set up a wild finish.
Canada East netminder Jordan Ruby stole the show in the late going, making a number of game-saving stops to ensure he’ll get a second crack at the semifinals – he was part of the East team that was embarrassed 9-1 by Canada West in last year’s semis.