November 26, 2020

Russia tops Canada

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(AP)- Canada will not play for the gold medal at the world junior hockey championships for the first time in over a decade.

The Canadians lost 6-5 to defending champion Russia in Tuesday night’s second semifinal despite a four-goal burst in the third period. Canada’s streak of playing in every final since 2002 ended. The Canadians were 5-5 in those games.

Russia will meet Sweden in the championship game Thursday after the Swedes beat Finland 3-2 in a shootout earlier Tuesday in the other semifinal. Canada will take on the Finns for the bronze.

The Russians scored five times in the third period to beat Canada 5-3 in last year’s final in Buffalo, N.Y., and now have a chance for their first back-to-back titles since 2002-03.

Russian captain Evgeni Kuznetsov, the lone returning player from last year’s squad, dominated with three goals and an assist.

“They scored early. We didn’t react as well as we should have,” Canadian forward Brett Connolly said. “We’ve got to be better.”

Nikita Nesterov, Alexander Khokhlachev and Nikita Kucherov also scored for Russia. Nail Yakupov had three assists.

“We win. We’re pretty excited,” Yakupov said. “We beat Canada. Russia’s better than Canada.”

Connolly scored to put Canadians on the board early in the second period, but they went cold until the middle of the final session. Trailing 6-1 in the third, Dougie Hamilton, Jaden Schwartz, Brendan Gallagher and Brandon Gormley all scored over a 5-minute span starting at 9:27.

Canada lost despite outshooting Russia 56-24.

Andrei Vasilevski stopped 44 of 49 shots before being replaced by Andrei Makarov after Gormley’s goal at 4:17. Makarov stopped all seven shots he faced.

Scott Wedgewood allowed four goals on 14 shots for Canada. He left the game at 8:48 of the second period when Khokhlachev crashed into the ne  on Kuznetsov’s third goal. Mark Visentin replaced him, stopping eight of 10 shots.

Max Friberg had a goal and an assist in the third period and then scored the winner in the shootout to give Sweden a berth in the final. William Karlsson added a goal for Sweden.

Alexander Ruuttu and Armia scored in regulation for Finland.

Friberg also scored the game-tying goal and set up the winner in Sweden’s 4-3 overtime win over Russia on Saturday.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win a gold medal at the world juniors, so of course I’m excited,” said Friberg.

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