Swede taste of victory

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

Team Sweden celebrated New Year's Eve with a ton of shots -- and a win.

For the first time in Sweden's five-year history attending the Mac's Midget Tournament, the boys in Blue and Gold are headed to the title game after they beat the Prince Albert Mintos 3-0 in the semifinal yesterday at Max Bell Centre.

Mintos goaltender Dustin Tokarski did everything he could, stopping 42 shots, but the Swedes were just too powerful.

Head coach Lars Lindgren was pleased with his team's effort.

"We didn't really have the legs in the first period because we only played three hours ago," said Lindgren, alluding to the team's 5-2 win over Moose Jaw in the quarter-finals earlier yesterday.

"We had to be smart in the first period but in the second we started skating better and we had good puck control. Plus, you could tell they were getting really tired and they couldn't really come onto to us."

Sweden outshot the Mintos 14-3 in the first period and then increased that lead to 30-12 by the end of the second frame.

After all that rubber was directed towards Tokarski, the Swedes only had a single marker to show for their efforts. Captain Oscar Moeller send a saucer pass to Mikael Backlund, who tapped it in.

Lindgren was never worried.

"We've been getting 40 or 50 shots every game in this tournament, so it was nothing new," he explained. "And besides, in the first period, many of those chances weren't good ones."

For Tokarski, who watched his team score seven goals in their quarter-final drubbing of the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers, a lack of goal support was a disappointment.

Still, the 16-year-old goalie never laid any blame, instead applauding the work his teammates did in front of him.

"I couldn't have asked for anything more but Sweden was a good team," he said.

"It just didn't work out for us."

Swedish goaltender Mark Owuya didn't have nearly as much work but stood tall when he needed to.

Prince Albert's best chance came in the second when assistant captain Adam Matlock beat a defender and walked in alone but was thwarted by Owuya.

Prince Albert coach Tim Leonard said his team gave it all they had.

"I thought we played pretty good," said Leonard.

"You've got to give them a lot of credit," he added.

"They're a fantastic team that's highly skilled and they move the puck well.

"They don't give you lots of opportunities either.

"We had some chances but missed and that's just the way it went for us."

Sweden strengthened their lead near the midway point of the third period when Johan Erkgards solved Tokarski with a low wrist shot to the blocker side.

The Mintos lost their steam until late in the period when they got some chances on Owuya.

Unable to get the puck deep with Tokarski on the bench, Johan Pettersson put the nail in the coffin with an empty-netter.

"This is the first time Sweden goes the final in the five years we've been coming here," said Lindgren.

"We're really pleased."


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