Sweden beat Finland in hunt for hockey gold

Sweden advanced into the world ice hockey championship's gold medal match with a 3-0 win over their Nordic neighbours, longstanding rivals and co-hosts Finland in the semi-final on Saturday.

Dallas Stars left winger Loui Eriksson collected two goals and an assist, while goalkeeper Jhonas Enroth produced 30 saves the victorious hosts.

The result kept alive the Swedes’ hopes of becoming the first team to win the gold medal on home ice since the former Soviet Union did it in 1986.

“It’s really great to battle into the final past such a tough opponent like Finland,” Sweden’s manager Par Mårts said.

“They (Finland) are a well-organized and disciplined team.”

“It was a tricky game in your own home building. We were under pressure as everybody here expected nothing less than the win from us. But I think we played a good game today and deservedly got a place in the final.”

Sweden opened the score 10:33 into the match on a powerplay through Vancouver Canucks center Henrik Sedin, who sent the puck into the net with the help of a ricochet off Eriksson, who was credited as the scorer.

The Finns poured into attack and began peppering Enroth with shots as they sought an equalizer, but to no avail as the Buffalo Sabres netminder was in complete command.

Eriksson made it 2-0 for Sweden with 3:47 remaining in the second period, firing the puck under the crossbar from Henrik Sedin’s pass from behind the goal line when Finland’s forward Petri Kontiola was in the sin bin.

In the third period the Swedes were sitting comfortably on their advantage, confidently stifling Finland’s attacking efforts.

Finland’s manager Jukka Jalonen substituted goalie Antti Raanta for a sixth outfield player with 1:47 remaining but only to allow Henrik Sedin to score an empty-netter at 59:37 to secure the Swedes’ well-deserved win.

“We were not playing that bad but squandered all of our scoring chances,” Jalonen said.

“Besides, the special teams made the difference today as Sweden’s powerplay was very good, very efficient, while we failed to score on powerplay as well.”

In the Sunday’s final Sweden will meet Switzerland, which continued their improbable unbeaten streak by beating the United States 3-0 in Saturday’s other semi-final.

AFP/The Local/dl

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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.