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HOCKEY

Sweden ice hockey world champions

Sweden became the first team to win world and Olympic titles in the same year after a 4-0 dismantling of defending champions the Czech Republic in the world championships ice hockey final in Riga, Latvia, on Sunday.

Jesper Mattson and Niklas Kronwall both scored a goal and an assist, while Johan Holmqvist recorded his second shutout of the event to help the Tre Kronor to the title.

The teams began their final match cautiously trying to find a way to expose their rival’s defensive frailties without taking unnecessary risks.

However, the Swedes looked more focused and played with greater accuracy to clinch a comfortable 2-0 lead before the first intermission as their forwards Mattson and Fredrik Emvall scored one apiece within just 37 seconds.

Detroit Red Wings defender Kronwall netted Sweden’s third 4:07 into the second period, while Jorgen Jonsson made it 4-0 on a two-man powerplay with 2:59 remaining before the second break.

In the third period, the Swedes eased up the pressure but their domination was never in doubt as they easily stifled the Czechs’ attacking efforts grabbed their first world crown since 1998.

With that win, the Swedes also grabbed the lead in their head-to-head record with the Czechs as the opponents were both with four wins at the world championships before their final clash here.

Earlier on Sunday, Finland won the bronze medal, clinching their first podium place since 2001, by thrashing Canada 5-0.

“Bronze medal games are not easy at all,” Finland manager Erkka Westerlund said after the match. “The mental preparations after losing the semi-final are very difficult.

“I’m proud of my team. They’ve prepared very well for tonight and they really were a team of lions on the ice. It’s always tough to beat Canada, the motherland of hockey.”

Antti Miettinen scored a goal and an assist, while Fredrik Norrena produced 37 saves and recorded his third shutout of the event to help Finland gain revenge for a 4-2 defeat in the qualifying round of the event.

However, Canada still have an impressive head-to-head record against Finland at the world championships with 33 wins to just seven defeats and two draws.

Tomi Kallio put Finland in the lead 4:06 into the match on a powerplay, while Florida Panthers’ forward Oli Jokinen increased Finland’s advantage 5:20 into the second on a two-man powerplay.

Riku Hahl added his goal with 3:42 remaining before the second intermission before Dallas Stars’ strikers Miettinen and Jussi Jokinen both scored in the third to complete whitewashing of Canada.

“I would like to congratulate Finland. They deserved their win, they were better than us,” Canada’s coach Marc Habscheid said. “Yesterday we suffered a really heart-breaking loss but our guys came out hard and we started well.

“My team is very young. A bigger part of it is the future of Canadian hockey and you can see our future is great.”

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.