OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Alexis Lafreniere scored twice and Canada routed defending champion Finland 5-0 Saturday to set up a final against Russia at the world junior hockey championship.
Connor McMichael, Jamie Drysdale and Ty Dellandrea also scored and goaltender Joel Hofer stopped 32 shots to shut out the Finns.
Lafreniere backhanded his first to increase Canada’s lead to 2-0 early in the first period at Ostravar Arena in the eastern city of Ostrava. He wristed in his second on a power play in the middle period to finish the scoring.
The 18-year-old center, who is projected to be the No. 1 pick at the 2020 NHL draft, recovered from a left knee injury he sustained against Russia in the team’s second group-stage game, which the Russians won 6-0. He missed the following two games against Germany and the Czech Republic. Lafreniere has four goals and four assists in four games at the tournament.
Canada is the most successful team at the world juniors with 17 titles but is looking to bounce back from a disappointing sixth-place finish last year when it hosted the event.
Finland eliminated Canada 2-1 in overtime in the quarterfinals last year on the way to the title.
Canada stormed the ice early, getting three goals from McMichael, Lafreniere and Drysdale 2:07 apart to jump to a 3-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.
Dellandrea stretched the lead to four, still in the opening frame.
Earlier, Ivan Morozov scored his second goal in overtime and Russia topped Sweden 5-4 to reach Sunday’s final.
Morozov collected the puck at his blue line and skated up the ice to wrist the winner past goaltender Hugo Alnefelt with 1:36 remaining in overtime.
Russia is seeking its first title since 2011.
Sweden will play the bronze medal game against Finland.
Yegor Sokolov also scored two goals for Russia and Alexander Khovanov added one. Russia outshot Sweden 44-25.
Rasmus Sandin scored two goals and added two assists for Sweden; Samuel Fagemo and Nils Lundkvist added one goal apiece.
It was an up-and-down game.
Russia answered Sandin’s first goal scored just 16 seconds into the game with three goals still in the opening period, including Morozov’s tying goal on a power play.
Sweden rallied and Lundkvist put the Swedes ahead 4-3 in the third before Sokolov tied the game again with 11:25 left in the final period to force overtime.
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