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U-18 World Championship Three Stars: Top Performers from Final Day

The U-18 World Hockey Championship ended on Sunday with Sweden pulling off a 6-4 win over the United States, and Finland beating Czechia for gold. Here's a look at the top performers from Germany to close out the event.

It's all over.

The U-18 World Hockey Championship ended on Sunday with Sweden pulling off a 6-4 win over the United States, and Finland beating Czechia for gold.

Here's a look at the top performers from Germany to close out the event:

First Star: G Hugo Hävelid, Sweden | 47 saves on 51 shots

Just as he was in the semifinal game against Finland, Hävelid was Sweden’s best player when the pressure was one. His ability to make the big save when he needed came up big in a game where the Swedes were greatly outshot by the Americans. Making pivotal saves on short handed breakways from Devin Kaplan and Rutger McGroarty gave the Swedes confidence, scoring shortly after the McGroarty breakaway to pull ahead by two goals. Hävelid made a number of big saves on high danger chances from American forwards. His puck tracking ability was at its best with his team down a man. Reading the passes and understanding the Americans flow of play, Hävelid was able to find himself in great position consistently.

Ending the game with 47 saves, Hävelid gave his team every chance to capture the tournament championship. Hävelid doesn’t have the frames NHL clubs look for from their netminders in the draft but with the success of players like Jusse Saros, Hävelid very well could have enticed a team with his U-18 performance. Big performances in big games, especially for netminders, make NHL teams much more interested in a prospect and Hävelid fills that mold quite well.

Second Star: F Joakim Kemell, Finland | 2G-1A

After sitting in the penalty box yesterday as Sweden scored late to take the lead and advance to the gold medal game, Kemell made sure to do everything in his power to secure the bronze medal for Finland. Finishing the game with two goals and an assist, Kemell showcased all of the strengths in his game. When at his best, Kemell is an energetic forward who forechecks hard, brings an element of physicality and he has finishing ability that matches up with anyone in the 2022 NHL draft class.

Kemell’s big night started early for the Finns after allowing the first goal. Battling in front of the net with Czech defender Ales Cech, Kemell establishes his position in front of the netminder before extending his stick to deflect in a point shot. The hard fought tip in was what so many scouts want Kemell to do more. Use his size and strength to get to the areas where he can make a difference. Later in the game, still tied at one, Kemell made a very good defensive play in the neutral zone to turn the puck over and then followed the play up ice, cashing in off a nice pass after the initial chance was stopped by the Czech netminder. Add in an assist that came in part due to Kemell’s persistence on the forecheck and work off the wall, and Kemell was directly responsible for the Finns pulling ahead and locking the bronze medal down.

Third Star: F Liam Öhgren, Sweden | 2G-1A

The Swedish captain came into this game and showed why he is often viewed as a top-20 pick by scouts. He plays with a combination of high-end motor and refined maturity allowed him to make the right play at every turn. His effort on both ends of the ice led to positive play for the Swedes. 

Öhgren scored on the power play in the second period to give the Swedes a 3-2 lead with a beautifully place shot that beat Trey Augustine five hole. The patience and quick release showed just how lethal he can be with the puck on his stick. Scoring what ended up being the game winning goal in the third period, Öhgren disrupted the American attack in his own end. Moving the puck to teammate Jonathan Lekkerimäki who executed the give-and-go perfectly with Öhgren who burst past the U.S. defender and juked a sprawling Augustine before sliding the puck backhand into the net.

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