Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Monica McAlister on 04/26/14 at 10:00 AM ET
The U.S. Men's National Under-18 team defeated team Sweden 4-1 this morning in the semifinals to advance to the gold-medal game.
LAPPEENRANTA, Finland - Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich.) and Ryan Hitchcock (Manhasset, N.Y.) each scored a goal and added an assist as the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team clipped Sweden, 4-1, in semifinal action here today at Lappeenranta Arena. With the win, Team USA advances to the gold-medal game of the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's Under-18 World Championship.
Sweden tallied the first goal of the game just 35 seconds into the opening frame, immediately after its first power play expired. The U.S. responded at the 3:11 mark with a goal from Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.). Kyle Connor (Shelby Township, Mich.) skated down the left sideboards into the Swedish zone and found Matthews streaking down the ice in support. Connor sent a pass to Matthews near the top of the circles for a snap shot that sailed past Linus Soderstrom for the score.
Hitchcock scored the go-ahead goal for the United States at 7:47 of the second stanza. Noah Hanifin (Norwood, Mass.) entered the offensive zone and absorbed a hit in the left faceoff circle to put a shot on net that was intended to create a second opportunity. Hanifin's rebound floated to Hitchcock on the opposite side of the crease who shoveled the puck over Soderstrom to give Team USA a 2-1 lead entering the third period.
Larkin lifted the U.S. to a two-goal advantage at 8:38 of the final frame. Hitchcock skated behind the attacking net and stole the puck from a Swedish defender. Quickly, he found Larkin open at the top of the crease and Larkin fired the puck under the crossbar before Soderstrom could react. Jack Eichel (North Chelmsford, Mass.) secured the 4-1 victory for Team USA with an empty-net goal with 46 seconds remaining. Larkin assisted on the play.
U.S. goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (Parma, Ohio) made 19 stops in the win for Team USA while Soderstrom kicked out 30 saves for Sweden.
Tomorrow (April 27th) the U.S. Men's National Under-18 Team will conclude tournament play against either Canada or the Czech Republic (depending on the outcome of their semifinal game) for the gold-medal game at 11 a.m. EDT.
The gold-medal game will be held at Lappeenranta Arena and broadcast live, for free, on FASTHockey.com.
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