WERNBLOM SCORES SHOOTOUT WINNER, SENDS SWEDES TO GOLD MEDAL GAME
JASON LA ROSE
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Lukas Wernblom scored the deciding goal in the ninth round of the shootout, and Sweden edged Canada White 3-2 in an extra-time thriller Friday afternoon to book its spot in the gold medal game at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The Swedes will play for gold for the first time since winning it all in 2013; they’ll face the winner of the Canada Black-Russia semifinal on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET) at the Essar Centre.
Wernblom scored twice for Sweden in the shootout, while Jared McIsaac (Truro, N.S./Halifax, QMJHL) did the same for White. Jacob Olofsson, who kept the Swedes alive with a goal in Round 8, was the only other player to score.
The Canadians got the early lead they wanted on an unassisted effort from Jackson Shepard (North Vancouver, B.C./Kamloops, WHL) just 1:13 in, but Marcus Westfält pulled Sweden even late in the opening frame, spinning in the slot and sliding a shot under White goaltender Olivier Rodrigue (Chicoutimi, Que./Drummondville, QMJHL).
The start of the second period produced another quick Canadian goal, with hometown hero Barrett Hayton (Peterborough, Ont./Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) getting his first of the tournament off a pretty set-up from Anderson MacDonald (Quispamsis, N.B./Sherbrooke, QMJHL) with just 59 ticks gone in the middle frame.
But again the Swedes responded; Samuel Fagemo drove to the net to beat Rodrigue at 7:44, even things again and providing the last of the scoring through regulation time and overtime.
Rodrigue and Swedish counterpart Olof Lindbom traded saves for the final 42 minutes – the Canadian made 31 saves through 70 minutes of work, while Lindbom answered with 29 of his own.
After the third period and overtime solved nothing, despite a combined 24 shots on goal, the teams headed to a five-round shootout to determine who advanced to Saturday’s final.
Wernblom gave the Swedes the lead in the second round, but McIsaac answered on the fifth and final shot for White, putting a shot off the post and behind Lindbom to keep the Canadians alive.
McIsaac did it again to start Round 8, snapping a quick shot through Lindbom, but Olofsson came through in the clutch for the Swedes, beating Rodrigue to continue the drama.
After Lindbom finally turned away McIsaac, Wernblom went to the backhand and lifted the final shot over Rodrigue to book Sweden’s fourth trip to the gold medal game in tournament history.
The loss means Canada White will meet either Canada Black or Russia for bronze on Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m. ET).