Finland and USA reach semis in U20 championship


Wed, Jan 04, 2006 - Page 19

Tuuka Rask made 53 saves and Teemo Laakso scored on a power play at 9:26 of overtime to give Finland a 1-0 victory over Sweden on Monday night in the quarterfinals of the world junior hockey championship.

Finland will face Group A winner Canada in the semifinals Tuesday night.

"I was tired, very tired," said Rask, drafted in the first round by the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer. "It's a big win for us. Sweden against Finland is the same as the States against Canada."

The Finns opened round-round play with a 4-1 loss to Canada on Dec. 26.

"Tomorrow ... we need this kind of goaltending," Finnish coach Hannu Aravirta said. "It was unbelievable. I [haven't] seen a similar game from a goalie."

In the other quarterfinal, Cory Schneider made 30 saves and Phil Kessel and Chris Bourque scored goals to lead the US to a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over the Czech Republic. The US will face Group B winner Russia on Tuesday night.

With Sweden's Tobias Viklund serving a tripping penalty, Laakso beat goalie Daniel Larsson off a scramble in front the net to end the game.

"Raskie played a really good game and one goal was enough," said Laakso, a Nashville draft choice. "I don't know what [would have] happened without him."

Larsson finished with 24 saves.

"This is the maybe the toughest loss of my career," Swedish coach Trogny Bendelin said. "I've been head coach for the international team and this is my third world championship.

"This is the best game we've played against the Finns in my time and the team just couldn't play better. The team and the players are completely devastated."

In the US-Czech Republic game, Kessel, the University of Minnesota freshman star expected to be the top pick in the NHL draft, opened the scoring on a power play at 3:23 of the first period, and assisted on Bourque's goal at 11:08.

Bourque, the son of Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, plays for the Washington Capitals' Hershey affiliate in the American Hockey League.

Kessel has one goal and nine assists for a tournament-high 10 points, and Bourque is the top goal scorer in the event with seven.

Ladislav Smid pulled the Czech Republic within a goal on a power play at 12:17 of the opening period, but Schneider -- a Boston College sophomore -- made the lead stand.

In a relegation game, Julian Walker and Juraj Simek each had a goal and an assist, and Reto Berra made 23 saves in Switzerland's 5-2 victory over Latvia.

Mathias Joggi, Alessandro Chiesa and Dario Burgler also scored for Switzerland. Andis Abolins and Martins Karsums scored for Latvia.

On Wednesday, Latvia will face Norway, and Switzerland will play Slovakia.