U-18 World Championship Roundup: Round Robin Play Finishes With Canada, Finland Winning Groups

USA barely edged out Finland and Canada, Russia and Sweden score big wins. The preliminary round is over and Texas, and all that's left is the games that count the most.
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Canada Finishes Off Preliminary Round with Perfect Record

Belarus went with a surprising decision to start 16-year-old Yan Shostak for his first start of the game. Ivan Zhigalov was projected to be the starting goalie before the tournament began but Tikhon Chaika pulled out a pair of fantastic performances and looks ready to play in the quarter-finals - in that case, Belarus was looking to keep him rested. 

Unfortunately, Canada proved to be too much for Belarus and Shostak's night wouldn't last too long. At 5:06, Shane Wright - the top prospect for the 2022 draft - scored in his first game since Tuesday by stealing the puck off of Danila Klimovich for the 1-0 goal early on. Defenseman Olen Zellweger would score one of his own late in the period to make it 2-0.

Just 1:59 into the second, Mason McTavish would make it 3-0. This time, Corson Ceulemans sent him down for an odd-man rush but McTavish would dance by both Belarusian defenders before beating Shostak glove side. Wright would add another goal a few minutes later to end Shostak's night in favor of Zhigalov.

Belarus wouldn't escape without a goal of their own. Andrei Loshko would score a power-play goal at 14:28 in the second period to end Benjamin Gaudreau's shutout bid, making the score 4-1 after a couple of good stops by Zhigalov at the other end. McTavish would add another and Ilya Morozov would score for Belarus, but Canada would hold on for the 5-2 victory to stay 4-0 through the preliminary round. 

With the win, Canada will face the Czech Republic in the quarter-final on Monday, with Sweden, Belarus and Switzerland rounding out the top four.

USA Takes Thriller, But Finns Win Gold

Finland was just 3.2 seconds away from winning both Group B and the final game of the preliminary round. They wouldn't take the victory, but they'll hold on to the group title after losing to the United States 5-4 in overtime on Saturday.

It was about as good of a game as you could ask for in a day full of one-sided efforts. It all started at 8:13 when Sasha Pastujov's shot bounced around in front of the net and Jack Hughes knocked it back into the slot. Dylan Duke would knock in the rebound to make it 1-0. But just 30 seconds later, Ville Koviunen answered back with one of his own to knot things up, taking away any instant momentum the Americans may have had.

USA had their chances, but Finland would strike next. Juho Jarvela would beat an American defender on the rush before passing the puck to Niko Huuhtanen. Huuhtanen then sent it back to Jarvela who beat a sprawling Kaidan Mbereko, putting Finland back ahead heading into the first intermission. 

But the Americans wouldn't let Finland's lead last long in the second frame. Charlie Stramel would score from the slot to tie it up before Isaac Howard scored the only other goal with under seven minutes go on a fast wrist shot. 

Finland would score their own early goal to kick off the third when Samu Tuomaala beat Mbereko just 29 seconds into the third to once again tie the game up at three. But at 53:26, Finland was able to secure the win after Viljami Juusola's shot was directed in by Sisu Yliniemi in front to give Finland its second unanswered goal - but it wouldn't decide the win.

With 3.2 seconds left, Ty Gallagher forced overtime after skating in from the blueline and having his shot blocked in front. He would then go and retrieve it and knock it over the line just before the final buzzer, tying the game at four apiece. That would get the Americans energized, and shortly after the extra frame began, Sasha Pastujov went end-to-end and outlasted two hooks to win the game for USA in an incredible fashion.

Finland tied Russia in the Group B standings with nine points apiece, but Finland got the tie-breaker after winning the matchup between the two teams. USA would miss the mark by a lone point and the Czech Republic rounded out the Group B placement with four points.

Russia Explodes for Win Against Czechs

Russia pulled off the second highest-scoring game of the tournament with a 11-1 win over the Czech Republic, slightly missing the 12-1 score that Canada put up against Sweden on the second day of play.

Russia would not win the group after Finland got their ninth point of the tournament later in the evening, but Russia will still finish second and face off against Belarus on Monday afternoon in Texas.

At 1:22, 16-year-old sensation Matvei Michkov opened the scoring up on the doorstep after taking Nikita Chibrikov's pass and beating Oliver Satny for the icebreaker. 

The Russians weren't perfect and allowed the Czechs to get a few chances, but at 13:10, Prokhor Poltapov took advantage of a passing miscue by the Czechs and scored on the breakaway to make it 2-0. Ivan Miroshnichenko made it 3-0 with time winding down in the first, scoring a power-play marker at 17:39 to put the game out of reach quite early.

Russia was still showing too much power in the second, opening the lead up to 6-1. Arseni Koromyslov scored at 10:53 from the point after new Czech goaltender Tomas Suchanek made a big save in the net before kicking it out. Danila Yurov found Koromyslov waiting alone and he made no mistake on the wrister to extend the lead. 

Jakub Kos would answer back with a quick goal at the other end on a tip, but Dmitri Katelevski would restore Russia's four-goal advantage over a minute later to make it 5-1. Poltapov added a second goal in the dying minutes of the second for good measure to make it 6-1.

The legend of Michkov continued in the third. At 5:50, Michkov scored his second goal of the game after eluding a Czech defender with a spin deke before beating Suchanek glove side, making it 7-1 Russia. Michkov completed his second hat-trick of the tournament with time running down to give him nine goals through four games. Michkov moved past Patrik Laine (FIN, 2015) and Connor McDavid (CAN, 2013) third in goals by a U-17 player at the tournament and tied Kevin Romy (SUI, 2002) for second. Only Alex Ovechkin and his 14 goals for Russia in 2002 is left on the list ahead of him.

Russia wasn't done thanks to a pair of goals from Fyodor Svechkov. Danila Yurov caught him on the rush at 47:00 and then Nikita Chibrikov found him on a two-on-zero rush on the power-play to make it 9-1. Yurov would score one of his own to continue to the onslaught.

Latvia no Match for Sweden

Latvia will finish the U-18 World Championship without a victory, losing 5-0 to Sweden on the final day of round-robin play.

It wasn't due to a lack of pressure by Latvia. They actually outshot Sweden 15-6 in the first period and sent 30 shots Hugo Havelid's way, but they couldn't find a way to force Sweden's hand.

William Stromgren scored the lone goal in the opening period when he blocked a shot and went in all alone on Latvian netminder Linards Lipskis, beating him with a quick move to make it 1-0. Albert Sjoberg would score the only goal of the second on a quick wrister, but a late kneeing penalty in the middle stanza from Klavs Veinbergs would prove costly for Latvia.

Just 59 seconds into the third, Stromgren would once again put his name on the scoresheet, scoring the lone goal on the man advantage - but a goal that put Latvia too far out of reach. Deflated, the Latvians couldn't stop Simon Robertsson from converting on Fabian Lysell's feed at 45:22, with Robertsson adding a second one just three minutes later on his next big scoring chance. Isak Rosen and Ludwig Persson would add goals in the final three minutes of play to make it 7-0, marking a huge game for Sweden to secure second in Group A.

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Three Stars

1. Matvei Michkov, F (RUS): His dominance knows no bounds. Three goals in yet another outstanding effort for the 16-year-old, marking his second hat-trick of the tournament.

2. Shane Wright, F (CAN): Two goals in his second game of the tournament gives him five on the tournament. He didn't want to let Michkov steal all the attention.

3. Hugo Havelid, G (SWE): A strong effort for Sweden that was overshadowed by his team's five-goal night. Havelid got just the third shutout overall of any goalie.

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Quarter-final Matchups

Russia vs. Belarus - 1:30 PM ET
Canada vs. Czech Republic - 4:00 PM ET
Finland vs. Switzerland - 6:30 PM ET
Sweden vs. USA - 9:00 PM ET

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