CZECHS UPSET SWEDES, BOOK SEMIFINAL SPOT
JASON LA ROSE
SWIFT CURRENT, Sask. – Ivo Sedlacek scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner in the first period, and the Czech Republic took charge early to earn a 5-1 win over Sweden on Thursday afternoon and advance to the semifinals at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
It’s the second time in three years the Czechs have gone winless in the preliminary round before knocking off a group winner in the quarter-finals; they beat Russia in 2017 en route to a bronze medal.
They will face the winner of the Canada Red-Canada White quarter-final in the semis on Friday (time and location TBD).
Marek Brada and Martin Rysavy added a goal and an apiece, and Tomas Suchanek made 25 saves.
The first period belonged to the Czechs, who outshot Sweden 16-3.
Matous Mensik struck first on a power play just three minutes in, going to the far side of goaltender Carl Lindbom from the face-off dot, only for Fabian Lysell to answer on a Swedish man advantage for his fifth goal of the tournament.
Sedlacek gace the Czechs the lead for good less than two minutes after the Lysell marker when he jumped all over a misplay by Lindbom, and Petr Moravec set up Brada for a beauty at 17:52 to make it a two-goal game after 20 minutes.
The Swedes found their offence in the second period, putting 11 pucks on Suchanek, but couldn’t chip away at the Czech lead. Rysavy quickly pushed the advantage to three on an early-period power play, finding a loose puck off a scramble in front.
Sweden held a 12-7 advantage in shots in the third period, but not one made its way behind Suchanek.
Sedlacek finished the scoring three minutes into the final frame, banging away at a rebound in front of Lindbom after the Swedes turned the puck over in their zone.
Sweden, which had won a medal at four of the last five U17 tournaments, will play Saturday in the fifth-place game in Swift Current (3 p.m. CT).