GAME STATS: CANADA 8, SWEDEN 1
FRISCO, Texas – A hat trick from Connor Bedard (North Vancouver,
B.C./Regina, WHL) and a four-point performance from Shane Wright
(Burlington, Ont./Kingston, OHL) assured Canada a spot in the gold medal
game at the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championship with an 8-1 semifinal victory
over Sweden on Wednesday night.
Canada will take home its first medal in seven years and contest its first
gold at the tournament since 2013, when a similar exceptional talent in
Connor McDavid led the Canadians to their third and most recent title.
Bedard opened the scoring in the opening minute of the second period before
finishing off his hat trick with two in the third period as part of a
six-goal outburst that saw the Canadians outshoot Sweden 29-3 in the final
Benjamin Gaudreau (Corbeil, Ont./Sarnia, OHL) made 16 saves for Canada,
outduelling his Swedish counterpart despite Carl Lindbom atoning for his
early exit against Canada in the preliminary round with 48 stops.
Canada awaits either Russia or Finland in Thursday’s final pending the
result of the second semifinal.
Lindbom looked sharp early, making eight stops in the opening eight minutes
after conceding three goals in as many minutes and getting the early hook
in a lopsided 12-1 win for Canada nine days ago.
A sharp start from Lindbom mirrored the Swedish defence in front of him,
clogging the neutral zone and limiting Canada to low-percentage chances in
the opening period.
Sweden nearly broke the deadlock five minutes before the intermission
against the run of play when Arvid Eljas struck the post on the rush after
the Swedes spent the majority of the first period in their own zone.
The shots showed 14-5 in favour of Canada at the intermission but weren’t
indicative of Sweden’s influence on the game through 20 minutes. The Swedes
had an answer to Canada’s game plan, absorbing pressure and attacking on
the rush when the opportunity arose, but the star power of Canada soon took
After putting in a sensational five-point performance against the Czechs in
the quarterfinals, Bedard continued his torrent offensive display. The
exceptional talent put a wicked wrist shot off the right post and past
Lindbom to break the deadlock 3:50 into the middle frame.
Penalty trouble awarded Sweden an avenue back into the game with Corson
Ceulemans (Beaumont, Alta./Brooks, AJHL) and Guillaume Richard (Cap-Santé,
Que./Tri-City, USHL) taking simultaneous penalties for an extended 5-on-3
kill for the Canadians.
Isak Rosen made the man advantage count, delivering Fabian Lysell’s
cross-ice feed into the back of the net with a hard one-timer that tied the
game at one just a minute after Bedard opened the scoring.
Chase Stillman (Peterborough, Ont./Sudbury, OHL) showed great persistence
to give Canada back the lead for good, starting and finishing his own play
around the Swedish net before the midway point of the second frame and
putting Canada up 2-1 through 40 minutes.
Confidence continued to pour out from Canada, and Bedard didn’t wait long
to follow up his second-period snipe with an even more unstoppable shot
that was earmarked for the top corner just 45 seconds into the final frame.
Brennan Othmann (Pickering, Ont./Flint, OHL) was on the spot in front to
accept a feed from Wright and go between his legs for his second of the
tournament and a 4-1 Canada lead at 3:40.
Francesco Pinelli (Stoney Creek, Ont./Kitchener, OHL) made it 5-1 when he
finished off a relentless shift from Canada with his fourth of the
tournament midway through the final frame.
Wright started a stretch of three goals from Canada in 2:03 in the final 10
minutes when the captain shovelled his team-leading seventh goal of the
tournament in close over Lindbom.
Bedard capped off a memorable night 38 seconds later, notching the hat
trick from the left of goal on one knee before Conner Roulette (Winnipeg,
Man./Seattle, WHL) sealed the victory with his second tally in Texas just
over three minutes from the final whistle.