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Lightning prospects help Canada into world junior title game vs. U.S.

MONTREAL — Lightning forward prospects Mitchell Stephens and Anthony Cirelli helped dig Canada out of an early hole, goalie Carter Hart shut out Sweden after a shaky start by Lightning prospect Connor Ingram and the Canadians advanced to the world junior championship title game with a 5-2 win over Sweden on Wednesday night.

Canada goes for the gold medal Thursday against the United States, which beat Russia 4-3 in a shootout. Troy Terry of Denver University scored on all three of his shootout attempts, the last in the seventh round.

The gold-medal game is at 8 p.m. on the NHL Network.

The United States and Canada have met three times for the title, with Canada winning in 1997 and the Americans in 2004 and 2010. Canada won the last of its record 16 titles in 2015.

The United States beat Canada 3-1 on Saturday in their group finale.

Canada was down 2-1 after Ingram gave up two goals on the first three shots by Sweden, which entered the semifinal undefeated in the tournament (5-0). After the second goal, at 8:05 of the first period, Ingram was pulled for Hart, who stopped Sweden's next 28 shots.

"I was pretty excited, and I was pretty lucky that it was early in the game," said Hart, a Flyers draft pick who plays for Everett in the junior Western League. "My gloves were still sweaty from warmup, so I wasn't too cold going in there. It really just matters how you prepare before the game. You prepare like you're playing."

Mitchell tied the score at 1 for Canada two minutes after Sweden opened the scoring, and Cirelli knotted it at 2 with 1:11 left in the first.

Julien Gauthier, a Hurricanes first-round draft pick last year, gave Canada the lead in the second with the first of his two goals, and Dylan Strome, the No. 3 overall pick in 2015 by the Coyotes, made it 4-2 in the third before Gauthier got an empty-netter.

"We played Canadian hockey tonight," coach Dominique Ducarme said. "We used our speed to take away their space and time, and we played a physical game."

The United States, seeking its fourth title and first since 2013, beat Russia in the knockout round for the first time in eight games. The Americans also beat Russia 3-2 in the preliminary round.

"It was more than just a game," said Boston College's Colin White, who scored twice in regulation. "Knowing we lost seven times in a row, we had to do this for more than ourselves, for our country, and we pulled it off."

Lightning prospects help Canada into world junior title game vs. U.S. 01/05/17 [Last modified: Thursday, January 5, 2017 12:20am]
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