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WINTER OLYMPICS

Sweden advances to Olympic hockey quarter-finals

Two-time defending champion Canada, unbeaten Sweden and undefeated Czech Republic advanced to the Olympic men's hockey quarter-finals with impressive victories on Sunday.

Sweden advances to Olympic hockey quarter-finals
Sweden's Patrik Zackrisson celebrates scoring against Finland during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on Sunday. Photo: Jung Yeon-je / AFP
Sweden, which took 2014 silver at Sochi, defeated Finland 3-1 while the Czech Republic downed Switzerland 4-1 and the Canadians blanked South Korea 4-0 to book a last-eight date.
 
“It's a big win,” Sweden's Joel Lundqvist said. “We played really well. We were just battling out there.”
 
Together with the Olympic Athletes from Russia, seeking the first Olympic gold for Russian talent since 1992, they will enjoy a break until Wednesday's tension-packed knockout quarter-finals.
 
“For sure it's one of the scariest games of the Olympics,” Czech veteran Martin Erat said. “You work to get there and if you don't win, you don't get anything and you go home.”
 
The United States and Finland could be ousted before the quarter-finals. They are among eight teams who face knockout matches Tuesday to decide the other four spots in the quarter-finals.
 
“Now it gets real,” Czech assistant coach Jaroslav Modry said.
 
The Americans will face Slovakia, whom they edged 2-1 in group play thanks to two goals from Harvard University star Ryan Donato. The winner meets the Czechs in the quarter-finals.
 
Canada's quarter-final foe will be the Finland-South Korea winner while Sweden awaits either Germany or Switzerland.
 
“We have a very important game coming up for sure,” Lundqvist said. “We're happy so far but if we lose the quarter-final it will be so disappointing.”
 
Patrik Zackrisson broke a 1-1 deadlock with 11:07 remaining in the third period to lift Sweden to victory, Oscar Maller adding an empty-net tally five seconds from the end to seal Finland's fate.

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.