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Sweden and the United States will host the Junior World Championship final

Sweden and the United States will host the Junior World Championship final

A power play goal by Jonathan Leckerimaki early in the third period was the winning goal that broke a 2-2 tie. Sweden beat the Czech Republic 5-2 to reach the final for the first time since 2018.

Just as the Czech Republic avenged their loss in the finals of the tournament in 2023 with a quarterfinal against Canada on Tuesday, Sweden exacted revenge on the Czechs for a bitter semifinal defeat in extra time exactly one year ago.

Sweden struggled at the start of the game and were very nervous at the start. The Czechs showed more energy and penetration, which was rewarded with a goal early on. Sebastian Redlich worked behind the goal and brought the puck to Mattias Melovski who was positioned in front of it. His shot at 6:55 minutes slipped under the skate of Swedish goalkeeper Hugo Havelit.

This event could be the spark that hosts need. They started skating with more purpose, pressing more decisively and driving the puck towards the goal with more vigor. And they rewarded themselves with balance. David Edstrom won a counterattack with Theo Lindstein, and his quick shot deflected off the catching arm of Czech goalkeeper Michael Hrabel and into the net (11:52).

The second and third were a completely open affair, with Sweden taking the lead for the first time. Axel Sandin Pellicka scored at 22:35 with a quick shot from the point, tying it 1-1, just over Hrabal's catching arm in almost the same spot.

At the other end, Havelit prevented Jiri Kulich, who was alone in front of him, from scoring. Kulich scored the winning goal against Sweden in extra time in last year's semi-finals. However, the Czechs managed to equalize after 27:36 minutes on the power play. Tomas Cibulka shot under Havelit's left skate, as did Melovski to make it 1-0. Moments later, the Czechs had a great chance to regain the lead when Andrej Becher stole the puck at their own blue line and drove across the ice toward the opposition goal, but he too was stopped by Havelid.

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The Swedes were more assertive at the start of the third period and the game was in the balance early thanks to a good performance by Hrabel. Until the Swedes got the power play. 17 seconds after the start of the advantage, Sandin Pellicka played a pass to Jonathan Lekerimaki and he beat Harball with a hard slap shot (45:14). Minutes later, the Swedes finally sealed the match with two more goals within 62 seconds. Noah Ostlund breaks alone, sets up Hrabel and scores perfectly with his backhand at exactly 52:00. Lekkerimäki finally made the final score as the Czechs, whose goalkeeper had played early, could no longer beat Havelit.

USA – Finland 3:2 (0:2/2:0/1:0)

The USA won 3-2 in the second semifinal against Finland thanks to a late power play goal by Cutter Gauthier. They face Sweden for gold in Friday's final, while Finland battles the Czech Republic for bronze.