Avalanche prospect Justus Annunen excludes the USA in junior worlds in order to prepare for the semifinals between Finland and Canada – The Denver Post
OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Avalanche draftsman Justus Annunen from Colorado is causing a sensation at the Junior Ice Hockey World Championships. And he turned down the United States on Thursday.
Annunen, the 64th draft election for 2018, amassed 30 saves to bring defending champions Finland to the semi-finals with a 1-0 win over USA in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
Joonas Oden gave the Finns a late lead with a goal while the 19-year-old Avs prospect did his thing online.
In a rematch from last year’s final, Oden broke the impasse with a power play of 4:23 in the closing stages and shot from goalkeeper Spencer Knight in the Werk Arena in Trinec.
The US pulled Knight for an extra attacker and a 6-4 lead 1:15, but Finland and Annunen held out.
Finland will play Canada in the semi-finals on Saturday, with Sweden taking on Russia.
Alexis Lafreniere marked his return from injury with a goal and assist when Canada beat Slovakia 6-1 in the quarter-finals.
Lafreniere shot past Slovak goalkeeper Samuel Hlavaj to extend Canada’s lead to 5-0 in the middle of the second half at the Ostravar Arena in the eastern city of Ostrava.
The 18-year-old center, slated to be number 1 in the 2020 NHL draft, is recovering from a left knee injury sustained in the team’s second group stage against Russia on December 28. He missed two games against Germany and the Czech Republic.
Captain Barrett Hayton scored two goals and added an assist for Canada.
Lafreniere backed Hayton’s opening goal in the first half. Connor McMichael, Jacob Bernard-Docker and Liam Foudy contributed in the second half to building a decisive lead for the Canadians.
Hayton scored his second goal in a power play in the closing stages.
Oliver Okuliar spoiled goalkeeper Joel Hofer with a late consolation goal.
Canada is the world’s most successful junior team with 17 titles but is looking to bounce back from a disappointing sixth place last year when they hosted the event.
In the last quarter-finals, Nils Hoglander scored two goals for Sweden in a 5-0 win against hosts Czech Republic.
Hoglander opened the scoring for 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 a goal for Sweden in Ostrava.
Hugo Alnefelt stopped 23 shots for the shutout.
Previously, Dmitri Voronkov had scored two power play goals in Trinec, and Russia beat Switzerland 3-1, becoming the first team to reach the semi-finals.
Alexander Khovanov also had a goal and an assistant and goalkeeper Yaroslav Askarov made 14 saves as Russia overtook the Swiss 36-15 in Trinec.
Gaetan Jobin scored for Switzerland.
Russia, which also defeated Switzerland in the bronze medal game last year, last won the title in 2011.
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