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U-18 World Championship Roundup: Finland, Czechia, USA, Sweden to Play for Medals

The final four teams are known at the U-18 World Hockey Championship, with Finland, USA, Czechia and Sweden moving on to the semifinal.
2022 IIHF U18_1

Finland Completes Comeback to Beat Canada

With five minutes to go, it looked like Canada had finally shaken off the rust and was off to the semifinals. But a pair of penalties allowed Finland to get back into the game, and Joakim Kemell's third goal of the game sent Finland on to the final four with a 6-5 win.

Finland will play Sweden on Saturday in a rematch of Tuesday's 4-3 thriller that Sweden won to win the group.

Canada finishes the tournament with 11 out of 22 goals scored against while on the penalty kill. Canada had a perfect tournament a year ago en route to gold.

The two teams traded goals in a fast-paced, high-energy opening frame. Kocha Delic and Connor Hvidston were the Canadian goal-scorers, both starting strong after rather quiet preliminary rounds.

Kemell, a projected top five pick for the 2022 draft, scored both of Finland's goals on the power play, resulting in Canada moving to nine goals against on the penalty kill. 

The penalty kill was definitely a cause for concern for Canada. But in the second, Brayden Schuurman gave Canada its third lead of the game at 25:24, with Connor Bedard scoring 28 seconds later off of a pass from fellow 2023 draft star Adam Fantilli to make it 4-2. 

Tommi Mannisto's late-period goal made it 4-3 in what was shaping up to be a huge third period. Neither team could score in the first half of the second, but Bedard's goal nine seconds into a shorthanded rush gave Canada its biggest lead of the game with under half the period to go. But consistent penalty issues, highlighted by an unsportsmanlike penalty with 4:48 to go, gave the Finns a chance to get back in. Aleksanteri Kaskimaki made it 5-4 at 55:43, and Kasper Halttunen scored at 58:17, also on the man advantage, to send the game into extra time. There, Kemell needed just 28 seconds to beat Reid Dyck for the overtime winner, with Finland's only lead of the game coming at the best possible time.

USA Rolls Over Latvia
It was the most one-sided games on paper, and the final score easily reflected that as the United States beat Latvia 13-3 on Thursday.

USA has a perfect 4-0 record, scoring 37 goals in four games. They'll face Czechia on Saturday for a chance to play in the gold medal game on Sunday.

A six-goal first period was more than enough to put an early end to things. Rutger McGroarty scored at 4:05 and 7:40, while a wrister by Seamus Casey at 5:29 helped to split them up. Charlie Stramel scored at 12:24 to force a Latvian goaltending change, while Logan Cooley and Ryan Leonard added goals of their own. Sandis Vilmanis' marker split things up, but that was the only real opportunity for celebration by the Latvian side.

Leonard scored another goal for the Americans in the second, while Cutter Gauthier and Frank Nazar both scored their first goals of the night to contribute to the 9-1 lead. 

Gavin Brindley scored his first of the tournament at 47:14, while Leonard scored his third, Casey added another and Ryan Chesley scored one to stretch USA's goal count to 13. Emils Veckatins scored Latvia's second goal, while 6-foot-6 defender Martins Kruklitis adding one more in the dying seconds to give Latvia something to smile about.

Sweden Stomps Germany 7-1

Sweden didn't give Germany any mercy on Thursday, scoring five times on the power play in a 7-1 win.

It was a big win for Sweden, who has been one of the best teams after losing 3-2 to Latvia in the opening game of the tournament. Sweden will now meet up with Finland in a rematch of Tuesday's thriller.

Mattias Havelid led the way for Sweden with two goals and two assists, including the opener at 2:23. Isac Born and Tim Almgren also scored to make it 3-0 after 20, with Liam Ohgren and Germany's Luca Hauf scoring two minutes apart in the second. Havelid, Otto Stenberg and Jonathan Lekkerimaki finished things off to make it seven for Sweden. 

Germany took eight minor penalties, with Sweden capitalizing on five of them. Hugo Havelid had 28 saves on 29 shots, while Simon Wolf, one of Germany's top three players in the tournament, had 39 saves on 46 shots.

Czechia Crushes Switzerland 8-0

In one of the most lopsided games of the tournament, Czechia had many reasons to smile after an 8-0 win over Switzerland.

Czechia will meet up with the United States to decide who moves on to the final. The Americans beat Czechia 6-2 earlier in the tournament.

Marek Soukup, Matyas Sapovaliv, Ondrej Becher and Simon Slavicek all scoring in the first to make it 4-0. Slvaicek scored again at 21:32, Jiri Kulich got his first of two at 24:53 and Soukup grabbed his second with under six minutes left in the period. 

Kulich's final goal put a cap on things at 45:41. The Czechs outshot Switzerland 36-8, with Switzerland registering just one shot in the first two periods.

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News and Notes

- German referee Lukas Kohlmueller left the USA/Latvia game after Logan Cooley's skate hit the official's wrist. He immediately skated to the bench and left the venue on a stretcher. The remaining 3:06 was transferred over to the first period. TSN's Victor Findlay reported that Kohlmueller underwent surgery.

- Canada's Connor Bedard finishes the tournament with the most points ever by a U-17 player in tournament history. Russia's Alex Ovechkin and Mikhail Grigorenko had 18 points each, coming at the 2002 and 2011 tournaments, respectively. Bedard's 13 goals and 21 points were split over two tournaments, with 14 a year ago in the United States and seven this year to sit fifth in tournament scoring. Bedard can come back for a third appearance next year, something last done by Nico Hischier from 2015-17, but never done by a Canadian.

- With four assists, Aron Kiviharju has surpassed Samuel Knazko for the most points by a U-16 defenseman. Connor McDavid has the all-time record among all positions with 14 points in seven games. If Kiviharju records another point, he'll tie John Tavares for fifth all-time, while Norway's Mathis Olimb is next on the scoring chart with seven points at the 2002 tournament.

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