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Forward Pontus Holmberg being chased by American defender Quinn Hughes. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall/Victoria Sports News

Teams Sweden and USA faced off at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre Saturday night in a game featuring two medal-favourites. Sweden had won 46-consecutive games at world juniors and has one gold medal to show for it. Saturday, they defeated the Americans 5-4 for their 47th, but it took overtime to do it.

Sweden took the first period 1-0. Filip Westerlund scored at 4:47, to loud cheers from the Swede-partisan crowd of 6,618. Samuel Fagemo and Lucas Elvenes assisted on the play.

For the 19-year-old Westerlund who plays for Frolunda HC in the Swedish Hockey League, it was his first world juniors goal. Not known for his offensive play, he has scored just once in 14 games for Frolunda HC this season as a defensive defenceman. He was drafted 44th overall by the Arizona Coyotes during the 2017 Entry Draft.

The Swedes scored two more on goaltender Kyle Keyser during the second period, one each by Rickard Hugg and Emil Bemstrom. Bemstrom is a fourth-round draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets from the 2017 entry draft.

The 19-year-old right-handed centre plays for Djurgardens IF of the Swedish Hockey League. So far this season he has 16 points in 23 games played, which puts him a point ahead of last year’s numbers that took him 33 games to earn.

Erik Brannstrom scored Sweden’s fourth goal at 2:33 of the third period – the game appeared to be put away for the Swedes – but the Americans were not giving up that easy; que the comeback.

Nineteen-year-old defenceman Mikey Anderson broke the shutout bid with a goal that came after what looked like a textbook – clinic-like four-way passing play in the Swedish end.

The Montreal Canadiens will have been very pleased to witness their 2017 first-round pick, 25th overall, Ryan Poehling score three times in a span of 6:11 – a natural hat-trick to send the game into overtime. His first goal was a jaw-dropping wrist shot that went top-right corner (stick-side) from the right faceoff circle on goaltender Samuel Ersson.

Poehling plays in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference for the St. Cloud State team. The 19-year-old centre has 17 points in 16 games so far this season, which puts him ahead of last year’s pace of 31 in 36 games.

Two of the goals were powerplay markers, the first while Westerlund was serving two minutes for interference. Four minutes later Isac Lunestrom was penalized two minutes for roughing and the Americans scored again at 13:25.

With 37 seconds remaining in the game, and the Americans pressing,  Vancouver Canucks future defenceman Quinn Hughes slipped an Elias Pettersson-like pass through the slot to Poehling’s stick, who one-timed the shot to the back of the net.

After a short intermission, the teams reconvened with three-on-three hockey. Both teams had several opportunities to score, but Adam Boqvist and Lucas Elvenes broke in 2-on-1. Elvenes served up a tape-to-tape pass and Boqvist buried it for the win. The comeback of the Americans was not lost on the Swedes who celebrated to loud cheers from the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre crowd.

Elsewhere, Canada defeated the Czech Republic 5- 1 in Vancouver, while the Swiss took out Denmark 4-0 and The Finns dominated Slovakia 5-1 earlier in the day.

For Canada, the scoring was balanced with five different players hitting the back of the net including Morgan Frost, MacKenzie Entwistle, Alexis Lafreniere, Brett Leason with the game-winner at 11:32 of the first period and Maxime Comtois at 6:03 with the game’s opening goal.

The undefeated Canadians next play on Monday – New Year’s Eve – at 5:00 pm against the Russians, while Team USA will take on the Finns. Denmark will face the Czech Republic and Sweden will take on Kazakhstan at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.