U-18 World Championship Roundup: 2020 draft prospects Askarov, Holtz steal the show as Russia, Sweden to play for gold

A 40-save effort from Yaroslav Askarov helped Russia pull off an upset over the United States, while Sweden will play for gold on home ice after two goals from Alexander Holtz helped put Canada away 4-3.
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Russia stuns stacked American roster to advance
A two-goal night by Cole Caufield wasn't enough for the Americans to advance to the final, with Rodion Amirov coming up big with a goal in regulation and in the shootout to complete a 3-2 upset by the Russians.

Caufield tied Alex Ovechkin's single-tournament record of 14 goals in what has been a spectacular tournament for the potential top-10 pick at the NHL draft. But before Caufield got on the board, Amirov's shorthanded marker at 8:24 of the second that gave the Russians the game's first goal before Semyon Chistyakov forced overtime with Russia's second goal little more than seven minutes into the third. Amirov scored the lone goal in the shootout, with Caufield, Alex Turcotte and Jack Hughes missing the net on their attempts.

The story of the game was the goalie duel between top 2019 prospect Spencer Knight and leading 2020 netminder Yaroslav Askarov. Knight made 31 stops for USA, including a couple of breakaway stops in overtime, while Askarov stopped 40 shots for the Russians. Askarov's performance added to an already impressive resume that has seen him finish as one of the top goaltenders at the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament, Under-17 World Hockey Challenge and the World Jr. A Challenge, despite being one of the youngest goalies in each instance.

The Russians will play in the final for the first time since 2009. Russia has won gold three times previously,

Sweden stops Canadian comeback to advance
Given how good Sweden's U-20 program has been for over a decade now – yes, even with just one World Junior title – it's hard to believe they've never won gold at the U-18s. But with a 4-3 victory over Canada, the Tre Kronor have an opportunity to change that Sunday.

Sweden's Philip Broberg opened the scoring at 11:47, entering the zone with no challengers before ripping home a quick wrist shot. Canada's Connor Zary answered back, tying the game with less than four minutes remaining in the opening frame on a sharp-angle shot that somehow beat Hugo Alnefelt.

Canada took the momentum into the second stanza, with Alex Newhook scoring his fifth of the tournament to make it 2-1 midway through the frame before 2020 draft phenom Alexander Holtz tied the game for Sweden. Sweden later pulled ahead, and five straight minor penalties stunted Canada's opportunities and an Albin Grewe goal with less than three minutes remaining sealed the deal for Sweden and sent them to the gold medal game for the first time since 2016.

Canada can win bronze for the first time since 2015, and doing so would be the nation's first medal in the past three tournaments. If Canada wins, they'll tie Finland and Sweden for the most bronze medals at the tournament with four each.

THREE STARS:
1. Yaroslav Askarov (RUS): The top goaltender for 2020 came up huge against a stronger American team.
2. Alexander Holtz (SWE): Two goals adds to the growing legend that is the star Swedish scorer.
3. Cole Caufield (USA): Goal Caufield is a goal away from breaking the single-tournament goals record.

NEXT UP:
Sunday, April 28
Canada vs. USA: 9:30 a.m. ET – Bronze medal game
Russia vs. Sweden: 1:30 p.m. ET — Gold medal game

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