Photo credit:Tre Kronor on Twitter
Canucks prospect Jonathan Lekkerimäki dazzles in Five Nation’s debut with Team Sweden
By Dave Hall3 months ago
The Five Nations U20 tournament opened on Wednesday, with Team Sweden hitting the ice for their first game on Thursday morning.
Unfortunately for Vancouver Canucks fans, both Jonathan Lekkerimäki and Elias Pettersson found themselves as healthy scratches, as the team geared up for four games in as many days. With 14 forwards and eight defencemen making the trip, it was expected to see a rotation of players throughout the weekend.
However, both players drew into the lineup on Friday to make their debuts as Team Sweden (1-0-0) took on Team Slovakia (0-1-0).
Lekkerimäki was reunited with his former linemate, Noah Östlund, on the team’s top line alongside Anton Wahlberg, who both happen to be Buffalo Sabres prospects.
The trio would combine for eight points, with Lekkerimäki contributing a goal and two assists.
The line wasted no time getting to work, scoring a goal in the opening minute of the game. Despite not picking up a point on the play, Lekkerimäki was applying strong offensive pressure, which helped the line open the scoring for Sweden early on.
The first period was relatively quiet for both sides, as the teams entered the dressing room with Sweden up by a score of 2-1.
Cue the second period, where Sweden turned up the heat and began to dismantle the Slovaks.
Lekkerimäki got into the action with a primary assist on the power play, delivering a cross-ice pass to Östlund, who finished with a wicked release to the far side top shelf.
It’s worth mentioning that both power play units for Team Sweden displayed excellent puck movement and are poised to be an absolute headache for teams as the weekend carries on.
Later in the third period, with a commanding 6-1 lead, Lekkerimäki showcased his incredible gift, scoring the calibre goal that everyone had hoped to see from the 19-year-old sharpshooter.
Breaking down the ice, he left the defender looking silly and unleashed a trademark Lekkerimäki shot to find the back of the net.
As a youngster who currently ranks second among all SHL goalscorers, this is what the fans expected, and that’s exactly what the fans got.
Finally, with the game well out of reach, Lekkerimäki continued to press, nearly converting on a quick snapshot to the top corner. He ultimately settled for his second assist (third point) of the night, as Anton Wahlberg cleaned things up for his second goal of the game.
Given what he’s been up to at the SHL level, a three-point performance should not come as a huge surprise. He has been displaying a strong and confident offensive game all season, and his performance against fellow U20 skaters is simply indicative of the work he has put in.
We hope to see a continuation of this over the weekend and next month, as Sweden is set to host this year’s World Junior Championship.
On the back end, Elias Pettersson had a relatively quiet game, both on and off the scoresheet. Paired with San Jose Sharks prospect Mattias Havelid on the second pairing and penalty-killing unit, he played a steady role in the game but did not bring anything worth noting. We hope to see a little more from him over the weekend.
Team Sweden secured a dominant 9-1 victory against the Slovaks, extending their record to 2-0-0, after a 3-0 win against the Swiss on Thursday.
Next up for Sweden is the 0-2-0 Czechs tomorrow at 9:30 AM (PST).
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