Photo credit:@orebrohockey on Twitter
Canucks prospect Jonathan Lekkerimäki wraps up a strong performance at the U20 Five Nation’s
By Dave Hall3 months ago
The U20 Five-Nations tournament has concluded, and the remaining teams wrapped up their final games on Sunday.
Team Sweden, featuring Vancouver Canucks prospects Jonathan Lekkerimäki and Elias Pettersson, secured a perfect 4-0-0 record, capping off the weekend with a 4-2 victory over Finland.
Lekkerimäki lived up to expectations and contributed points in each of his three games.
With a total of 22 skaters making the trip, Sweden rotated players in and out throughout the weekend, resulting in Lekkerimäki catching game one from the press box.
He kicked his weekend off on Friday and joined forces with Buffalo Sabres prospects Noah Östlund and Anton Wahlberg on the team’s top line.
He came out of the gate strong, tallying a couple of assists and netting a spectacular goal off the rush, splitting the defence and delivering his patterned shot. It was a nice way to remind the U20 world what he has been working on at the SHL level as of late.
We will point out that despite being the clear primary passer, Lekkerimäki was not officially credited for his first assist on the tournament’s stat sheet. Therefore, he finished the game with two points on paper but contributed three in reality.
While the point distinction may not hold much significance in a tournament focused on bragging rights, it’s a good reference for those interested in keeping track of his statistics over the year.
Here is the game one highlights.
In his second game, facing off against Czechia, Lekkerimäki enjoyed minutes alongside Östlund and Otto Stenberg, a trio with a strong history of playing together.
Although they didn’t directly contribute to any goals as a unit, they were dangerous all game, creating numerous scoring opportunities. However, Czech goaltender Michael Schnattinger was outstanding, making several key saves and earning hero status despite Sweden’s 2-1 victory.
However, Lekkerimäki did find the scoresheet with a secondary assist from a missed shot opportunity, thanks to a dangerous 5-on-3 power play opportunity.
Boy, this team can sure snap the puck around on the man advantage and should be a headache in the upcoming World Junior Championship.
Here are a few of Lekkerimäki’s highlights from his second game.
Sunday’s rival battle between Sweden and Finland saw the 19-year-old drop down to the fourth line, giving him a much-needed break after two consecutive days of heavy minutes. Despite the apparent “demotion,”, Sweden was primarily running their lines, so his minutes were hardly impacted.
The drop didn’t stop Lekkerimäki from getting on the scoresheet. With a man up, he grabbed a primary assist to kick-start what would be a 4-2 victory to remain perfect (4-0-0) over the weekend.
Sunday offered one of his best games of the weekend. He was extremely engaged from start to finish, and we felt that he did a much better job using his body and hounding pucks.
At this point, his offensive contributions are an area that is primed to deliver, so we always try to keep an eye on his extracurriculars, and on Sunday, he certainly brought them.
Here are some highlights.
This weekend should serve as a promising preview of what fans can anticipate over the holidays, as Sweden is set to host this year’s World Junior Championship.
While he didn’t require any additional validation and is essentially locked for a top-six spot, it’s promising to see him thrive amongst his U20 competitors.
Lekkerimäki has firing all year in the SHL, currently ranking second league-wide with eight goals this season. We hope that his strong play continues as he returns for his final stretch leading up to the World Junior Tournament.
As for Elias Pettersson, he only took part in one match over the weekend. He was a plus-two in the game but left early after falling awkwardly into the boards. At this time, there is no update on the severity of any potential injury, or what a timeline may look like.
He has enjoyed a strong season since being loaned to Västerås (Allsvenskan), with seven points (1G + 6A) through nine games. Assuming he is healthy, there should be a spot on Sweden’s left side carved out for him at the World Juniors, but we will have to wait for any updates.
Both players will return to their respective clubs to carry on with their 2023–24 campaigns. Pettersson can suit up as early as Wednesday, while Lekkerimäki’s Örebro is slated to return to action on Thursday.
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