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Canada, Russia to meet in World Junior Championship final

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic (AP) — Alexis Lafreniere scored twice and Canada routed defending champion Finland 5-0 Saturday to set up a final against Russia at the world junior hockey championship.

Connor McMichael, Jamie Drysdale and Ty Dellandrea also scored and goaltender Joel Hofer stopped 32 shots to shut out the Finns.

Lafreniere backhanded his first to increase Canada’s lead to 2-0 early in the first period at Ostravar Arena in the eastern city of Ostrava. He wristed in his second on a power play in the middle period to finish the scoring.

The 18-year-old center, who is projected to be the No. 1 pick at the 2020 NHL draft, recovered from a left knee injury he sustained against Russia in the team’s second group-stage game, which the Russians won 6-0. He missed the following two games against Germany and the Czech Republic. Lafreniere has four goals and four assists in four games at the tournament.

Canada is the most successful team at the world juniors with 17 titles but is looking to bounce back from a disappointing sixth-place finish last year when it hosted the event.

Finland eliminated Canada 2-1 in overtime in the quarterfinals last year on the way to the title.

Canada stormed the ice early, getting three goals from McMichael, Lafreniere and Drysdale 2:07 apart to jump to a 3-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.

Dellandrea stretched the lead to four, still in the opening frame.

Earlier, Ivan Morozov scored his second goal in overtime and Russia topped Sweden 5-4 to reach Sunday’s final.

Morozov collected the puck at his blue line and skated up the ice to wrist the winner past goaltender Hugo Alnefelt with 1:36 remaining in overtime.

Russia is seeking its first title since 2011.

Sweden will play the bronze medal game against Finland.

Yegor Sokolov also scored two goals for Russia and Alexander Khovanov added one. Russia outshot Sweden 44-25.

Rasmus Sandin scored two goals and added two assists for Sweden; Samuel Fagemo and Nils Lundkvist added one goal apiece.

It was an up-and-down game.

Russia answered Sandin’s first goal scored just 16 seconds into the game with three goals still in the opening period, including Morozov’s tying goal on a power play.

Sweden rallied and Lundkvist put the Swedes ahead 4-3 in the third before Sokolov tied the game again with 11:25 left in the final period to force overtime.

Finland eliminates U.S. 1-0 at World Juniors; Canada, Russia win

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Joonas Oden scored late to give Finland a 1-0 victory over the United States on Thursday and send the defending champion into the semifinals of the world junior hockey championship.

In a rematch of last year’s final, Oden broke the deadlock on a power play 4:23 into the final period, one-timing a shot from the slot past goaltender Spencer Knight at Werk Arena in Trinec.

The U.S. pulled Knight for an extra attacker and a 6-4 advantage with 1:15 left but Finland held on.

Finland will play Canada in the semifinals on Saturday, with Sweden facing Russia.

Alexis Lafreniere marked his return from injury with a goal and an assist as Canada routed Slovakia 6-1 in their quarterfinal.

Lafreniere wristed a shot past Slovakia goaltender Samuel Hlavaj to increase Canada’s lead to 5-0 on a power play midway through the second period at the Ostravar Arena in the eastern city of Ostrava.

The 18-year-old center, who is projected to be the No. 1 pick at the 2020 NHL draft, recovered from a left knee injury he sustained against Russia in the team’s second group-stage game on Dec 28. He missed the following two games against Germany and the Czech Republic.

Captain Barrett Hayton scored two goals and added an assist for Canada.

Lafreniere assisted on Hayton’s opening goal in the first period. Connor McMichael, Jacob Bernard-Docker and Liam Foudy contributed second-period goals to build a decisive lead for the Canadians.

Hayton scored his second on a power play in the final period.

Oliver Okuliar spoiled goaltender Joel Hofer’s shutout bid with a late consolation goal.

Canada is the most successful team at the world juniors with 17 titles but is looking to bounce back from a disappointing sixth-place finish last year when it hosted the event.

In the last quarterfinal, Nils Hoglander scored twice for Sweden in a 5-0 win over host Czech Republic.

Hoglander opened the scoring on a power play in the first period and added his fifth goal of the tournament in the second. Hugo Gustafsson, Victor Soderstrom and David Gustafsson also scored for Sweden in Ostrava.

Hugo Alnefelt stopped 23 shots for the shutout.

Earlier in Trinec, Dmitri Voronkov scored two power-play goals and Russia beat Switzerland 3-1 to become the first team to reach the semifinals.

Alexander Khovanov also had a goal and an assist and goaltender Yaroslav Askarov made 14 saves as Russia outshot the Swiss 36-15 in Trinec.

Gaetan Jobin scored for Switzerland.

Russia, which also beat Switzerland in last year’s bronze medal game, last won the title in 2011.

Hayton, Lafreniere lead Canada over U.S. at World Junior Championship

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Arizona Coyotes forward Barrett Hayton scored twice to help Canada beat the United States 6-4 on Thursday night in their Group B opener at the world junior hockey championship.

Alexis Lafreniere gave Canada a 5-4 lead with 3:11 left, just 7 seconds after Shane Pinto tied it for the U.S.

”We just tried to keep it simple and get pucks to the net,” said Lafreniere, , the projected No. 1 pick in the NHL draft. ”I think that worked out pretty good. Our power play was good. We’ve got to keep working, keep getting better.”

Connor McMichael, Nolan Foote and Ty Dellandrea also scored for Canada, and Nico Daws made 28 saves. Lafreniere added three assists.

”He’s an amazing player,” McMichael said about Lafreniere. ”The way he carried the team today and did the things he did was incredible. We’re obviously happy to have him.”

Pinto scored twice, and Nick Robertson and Arthur Kaliyev added goals for the Americans. Spencer Knight made 26 saves.

”It’s one game,” said Pinto, a second-round pick of the Ottawa Senators. ”It’s the beginning of the tournament, so we’ve just got to have a positive mindset.”

In the other Group B game, the host Czech Republic beat Russia 4-3.

Jan Jenik had a goal and an assist for the Czech Republic. Simon Kubicek, Jan Mysak and Matej Blumel also scored and Lukas Dostal made 33 saves. Yego Zamula scored twice for Russia.

In Group A in Trinec, Sweden beat Finland 3-2 in overtime and Switzerland topped Kazakhstan 5-3.

Alexander Holtz scored in overtime for Sweden after Nils Hoglander had a lacrosse-style goal from behind the net in regulation. Samuel Fagemo also scored, and Hugo Alnefelt made 23 saves.

”It feels incredible,” Holtz said. ”I got a great pass from Jonatan Berggren, so I just tried to pick the corner and it went in.”

Patrik Puistola and Kristian Tanus scored for Finalnd, and Justus Annunen made 45 saves.

Matthew Verboon scored twice for Switzerland.

U.S. women get 2 early goals, go ahead 2-0 in Canada series

MONCTON, New Brunswick — Abby Roque and Alex Carpenter scored early goals, and the United States women’s hockey team held on to beat Canada 2-1 in the second game of their five-game Rivalry Series.

Roque found the net 2:43 into the first period on the Americans’ first shot on goal – beating Canadian goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens stick-side.

Carpenter extended the lead at 14:09 of the first. She got a quick pass from Kelly Pannek through the crease and easily found the back of the net.

Canada got on the scoreboard midway through a chippy second period when Ann-Sophie Bettez deflected the puck past American goaltender Aerin Frankel.

”The second period, I thought we got a little momentum. We got the goal and the game started to change,” Canada coach Perry Pearn said. ”Certainly I thought we controlled the third period. But you’ve got to be so careful against the Americans. You can’t give them odd-man rushes and we did too much of that tonight.”

The U.S. captured the series opener 4-1 on Saturday in Hartford, Connecticut.

USA Hockey and Hockey Canada established the Rivalry Series last season to further showcase the women’s national teams. Canada won the inaugural series, 2-1.

The series continues with games on Feb. 3 in Victoria, British Columbia, Feb. 5 in Vancouver and Feb. 8 in Anaheim, California.

Players hope U.S.-Canada rivalry game helps spawn pro league

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HARTFORD, Conn. — The United States women’s hockey team beat Canada 4-1 on Saturday night, with players hoping the first in a series of five games between the international rivals will help kindle the public’s interest in both their sport and their fight off the ice for better professional opportunities.

Canada’s Victoria Bach and the Megan Keller of the U.S. traded power-play goals in the first period, before Amanda Kessel put the U.S. on top for good with a player advantage in the second. Abbe Roque’s backhand in the period gave the US a 3-1 lead and Alex Carpenter beat Genevieve Lacasse for the final goal 1:15 seconds later.

More than 7,000 fans showed up for the international competition, which comes after more than 200 members of what has since become the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association announced in May they would not play professionally in North America during the 2019-2020 season.

“I think it’s important for people to watch us play and see the level of talent and entertainment that’s out there,” Kessel said. “It’s getting that understanding that we need to help get us a place to play year-round so that people can see us more than five times a year.”

The women are seeking a professional league that provides a living wage, health insurance, infrastructure and support for training. The Canadian Women’s Hockey League shut down in the spring after 12 years of operation, leaving only the five-team National Women’s Hockey League, where most players make less than $10,000 a season.

“The product is there,” Kessel said. “The people to watch it are there. We just need a structure set in place.”

Sarah Nurse, a forward for Team Canada, whose cousin Kia Nurse plays for New York in the WNBA, said players are hoping to get support from the NHL, which has, so far, expressed little interest in investing in a women’s league.

“We can look at (the WNBA) and see that women’s sports have value and they have a place in this world,” said Nurse, who made $2,000 last season playing in the CWHL. “That is definitely a model that we look to.”

The rivalry series was created after the Four Nations Cup in Sweden was canceled when top Swedish players pulled out of national team events due to concerns over their salary and working conditions.

Without a viable pro league, players who are out of college have been training on their own at random rinks across North America in between gatherings of the national teams or training sessions and exhibitions sponsored by the players association.

Canada won two of those over the US in Pittsburgh last month.

But the lack of consistent competition can stunt the players’ development, especially when it comes to be being prepared for world and Olympic competitions, the players said.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Nurse said. “Games are when we truly get better and test out our skills, so it’s unfortunate that we don’t have more games to play.”

Cayla Barnes, who plays defense for the U.S. team and Boston College, said she and the other college players on the national teams understand what is going on and appreciate what the older players are doing.

“They are putting so much on the line for the younger generations,” she said. “Not just for us college kids who are coming up, but for U-8, U-10 girls who are coming up so they have opportunities later on. So I think all of us who are younger are trying to support them in whatever way we can.”

Hundreds of girls wearing their youth hockey jerseys attended the game, chanting “U-S-A” as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

“I want to be like them, like in the Olympics when I get older,” said 14-year-old Leila Espirito Santo, of Glastonbury “I started playing when I was in fourth grade and I wasn’t the best, but watching them play made me want to be better. It showed me I could do it.”

The teams will meet again on Tuesday in Moncton, New Brunswick. Other games part of the 2019-20 Rivalry Series are slated for Feb. 3 and Feb. 5 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Feb. 8 in Anaheim, California.