MALMO, Sweden — World junior championship host Sweden advanced to the gold medal game with a 2-1 victory over Russia, but the game wasn’t without controversy.
Tempers flared as the seconds counted down and Swedish defenceman Oskar Sundqvist held the puck alongside the boards when he was jumped by Russian defenceman Andrei Mironov.
“He was trying to kill time,” said Swedish goalie Oscar Dansk after his 26 save performance. “I guess just emotions came over everyone and one thing led to another – it’s a hockey game. It’s going to happen eventually.”
After the buzzer, Mironov was involved in a fight with Sweden’s Jesper Pettersson. Pettersson had been in the box serving a slashing penalty and skated straight into the fray to join the fight which left Mironov bloodied. Both Mironov and Pettersson received minor penalties for roughing and it’s unclear whether Pettersson will face further discipline from the IIHF who will no doubt review the incident.
Swedish coach Rikard Gronborg was furious and could be seen shouting at the Russian bench. Russian head coach Mikhail Varnakov chalked it up to emotions running high in game that would decide who would play for gold.
“All the players had high emotions,” said Varnakov through a translator. “I see nothing criminal in that stuff.
“It was just a couple guys showing emotion – it wasn’t a whole team against another team.”
In his post-game interview Mironov told Russian reporters that the Swedes behaved like “little girls.” He was also upset with Swedish forward Sebastian Collberg, who the defenceman said did not shake his hand in the post-game ceremony. Mironov said even the Americans, who they were involved in a separate incident with on Thursday, behaved better than the Swedes.
Collberg said he had a good reason for avoiding Mironov and it had nothing to do with being a poor sport.
“He had blood all over his face and he had (blood) still on his hands,” said the Montreal Canadiens prospect. “So I didn’t want to shake the hand because it was still bloody.”
The Swedes will face the winner of the game between Canada-Finland in the gold medal game on Sunday. The loser of that second semifinal will face Russia for the bronze medal earlier on Sunday.
“Finland and Canada are really good teams,” said Dansk on who he’d rather face. “It’s going to be a huge battle either way.”
Russia’s best chance to take control of the game came late in the second period, trailing Sweden 1-0. Russian defenceman Valeri Vasiliev was hit in the mouth by the stick belonging to Sweden’s Elias Lindholm.
His mouth guard went flying and Vasiliev dropped directly to the ice clutching his face. This prompted Swedish coach Gronborg to make a “diving” hand gesture from the bench.
The referees, however, gave Lindholm a four minute penalty for high-sticking - the majority of which would be served to start the third period. Sweden killed off the penalty and came back minutes later to score thanks to a nice effort from Sundqvist to beat Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevski up high.
Dansk was up to the task of holding the Russians at bay for most of the game.
“We had a lot of chances to score but we didn’t a couple times he made a couple big saves,” said Russian defenceman Nikita Zadorov. “We should have scored those goals.”
“It was a great game for (Dansk).”