Thursday, December 31, 2015

Canada Drops Last Game of Group Play At WJHC to Sweden

While Thursday’s game against Sweden meant nothing for Canada as far as the standings went, it was a chance for the Canadian squad to get on track and start to piece things together heading into the quarterfinal. Instead, penalties and special teams caught up and Canada dropped their second round robin game of the competition.

It didn’t take long for special teams to play a role in Thursday’s game as Canada’s Jake Virtanen was whistled for roughing little more than four minutes into the game. It would take Sweden 17 seconds to strike on the power play as Alexander Nylander found the back of the net. Two minutes after going down 1-0, the Canadians were again shorthanded — this time down both Rourke Chartier and Anthony Beauvillier — when Gustav Forsling made it 2-0 Sweden.

Before the period was out, Canada got on the board thanks to a Mitchell Stephens goal that came off of a rebound kicked out by Swedish netminder Linus Soderstrom.

The second frame was more of the same story for Canada, however. The Canadians took three minor penalties in the second period, and Adrian Kempe, who assisted on Sweden’s second power play goal, blasted a one-timer past Canadian netminder Mackenzie Blackwood.

Sweden’s Anton Karlsson added an even-strength goal seven minutes into the third period, but Canada made the score 4-2 thanks to a Mitch Marner blast on a 5-on-3 power play. They would never get closer, though, as Rasmus Asplund iced the game with an empty-netter with 11 seconds remaining.

With the victory, Sweden finished the round robin with four regulation wins and all 12 possible points. Sweden now heads to a quarterfinal matchup with Slovakia, which was able to only muster one win — against the potentially relegated Belarusians — in the round robin.

Canada’s path to a potential medal will be much more difficult, however. Their quarterfinal game Saturday will pit them against the host Finns, who finished second in Group B with three wins and one loss. No team was higher scoring than Finland, which netted 23 goals in four games.

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