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HOCKEY

Sweden through to hockey final

Turin Olympic champions Sweden battled into the ice hockey world championships final with a tight 5-4 win over the last year's runners-up Canada in their semi-final match in Riga on Saturday.

In Sunday’s final Sweden will meet reigning champions the Czech Republic, who clinched their place in the final by beating Finland 3-1 earlier on Saturday.

Sweden recorded their 24th win in 56 head-to-head meetinigs with Canada to remain on course to become the first ever nation to win the Olympic and world gold in the same year.

The Swedes got off to a lively start scoring twice in the opening five minutes through Detriot Red Wings rear guard Niklas Kronwall and forward Jörgen Jönsson.

Chicago Blackhawks striker Kyle Calder reduced the arrears for Canada but the Swedes restored their two-goal lead as Tony Mårtensson’s shot rebounded off defender Brad Stuart’s skate and into the net just three minutes later.

Mike Comrie, who plays for NHL side Phoenix Coyotes, cut the Swedes’ advantage again to send Canada into the first break just 3-2 behind.

But Sweden came out firing in the second period and goals from Mikael Samuelsson and Jonas Nordquist within the opening three minutes made it 5-2.

Tournament top scorer Sidney Crossby netted his eighth goal of the competition to reduce the arrears at the end of the second period.

Patrice Bergeron netted Canada’s fourth 3:38 into the third period but Sweden defended well and held on to gain a revenge for defeats in the 2003 and 2004 finals, dashing Canada’s hopes of clinching their fourth consecutive final.

HOCKEY

Sweden’s Rasmus Dahlin first overall pick in NHL draft

Rasmus Dahlin became just the second Swedish-born player to be selected first overall in the NHL draft on Friday when the Buffalo Sabres used the top pick on the rangy teenage defenceman.

Sweden's Rasmus Dahlin first overall pick in NHL draft
Rasmus Dahlin is bound for Buffalo. Photo: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images/AFP
Dahlin, who plays for Frolunda HC in the Swedish league and was widely expected to be the first pick, follows Mats Sundin, who was the top choice of the Quebec Nordiques in 1989.
 
“I just want everything to start,” Dahlin said. “I'm going to bring everything I have to that city. I'm super excited. I can't wait.”
 
Russian forward Andrei Svechnikov went second to the Carolina Hurricanes and the Montreal Canadiens used the third pick to get Finnish centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
 
The draft had a decided Europe flavour as four of the top six players were Europeans. The first American was Brady Tkachuk who went to the Ottawa Senators at No. 4 and the Phoenix Coyotes took the first Canadian Barrett Hayton with the fifth pick. 
 
The 18-year-old Dahlin said he was happy to call Buffalo home despite the fact they haven't had a winning season in the past seven seasons and have missed the playoffs eight years in a row.
 
“It's amazing to finally put on the Buffalo Sabres' jersey,” Dahlin said. “I've been there twice. I love that city.”
 
The six-foot-three, 185-pound Dahlin was honoured as the best defenceman at the 2018 world junior championship in Buffalo, registering six assists in seven games. He also played twice for Sweden as a 17-year-old at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
 
At number six, the Detroit Red Wings chose the brash Halifax Mooseheads winger Filip Zadina who vowed to make teams that passed on him pay down the road.
 
“I'm telling my agent if they will pass on me, I will fill their net with the puck,” the Czech Zadina said. “Yeah, it's just I want to prove to them that they have done a bad decision.”
 
The lone trade of the day came before the draft when the Colorado Avalanche acquired backup goalie Philipp Grubauer and defenceman Brooks Orpik from the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals for the 47th pick. The Capitals were willing to get rid of Orpik and Grubauer so they could create salary cap space to sign free agents.