Strong start helps send HV71 past Ottawa Capitals in Jr. Club World Cup semifinal

SOCHI, Russia – HV71 of Jonkoping, Sweden used the strength of two first period power play goals and another while shorthanded to help send them to an eventual 4-2 victory over the Ottawa Capitals, representing the Canadian Junior Hockey League, Central Canada Hockey League and Hockey Canada, in semifinal play Saturday at the Junior Club Sirius World Cup in Sochi, Russia.

With the result, Ottawa will now meet either Red Bull Salzburg of Austria or Yaroslavl Loko from Russia, who meet in the day’s second semifinal, in the bronze medal contest Sunday at 8 a.m. ET.

A fast-paced first half of the opening period saw the Capitals best chance to kick off the scoring come midway through the session when Darcy Walsh (Ottawa Jr. A Senators) was thwarted by HV71 netminder Hugo Alnefelt while in alone.

Picking up the initial man advantage of the contest helped the Swedes open the scoring at 11:52 as Lukas Isaksson made a smart back-door pass from behind the net to a waiting Max Wennlund on the right side who quickly fired the puck into the open side past Capitals starter Liam Souliere (Nepean Raiders).

Special teams saw HV71 extend their lead later in the frame when Anton Heikkinen struck shorthanded by lifting a backhand high over Souliere’s left shoulder off a quick two-on-one.

Up a skater again, Jonkoping’s Isaksson set-up behind the goal once more and worked a crisp pass to the top of the crease where a waiting Heikkinen quickly buried his second of the period to put them up 3-0 after 20 minutes.

Regrouping to begin the middle stanza, Ottawa got on the board at 3:27 when Alex Dicarlo (Smiths Falls Bears) snagged a high, bouncing puck in front, and after getting knocked down he regained his feet, spun quickly and roofed a shot past Alnefelt.

However, HV71 got that back a few shifts later with Kalle Smedberg finishing off a goal mouth scramble for the Swedish side that finished in top spot in Group B of the eight-team event.

The back and forth stanza saw 15-year-old forward Joshua Barnes (Cornwall Colts) sent in alone on a breakaway where the young skilled forward made a couple of quick dekes before moving left and lifting his chance over a sprawled Swedish goalkeeper.

That would however be the game’s final marker as the remainder of the second as well as the final frame went scoreless to give Jonkoping, the reigning Swedish Jr. champions, the win and help them advance to Sunday’s championship game as they improved to 4-0 overall.

Photo credit: JCWC Images