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Canucks World Juniors Preview: Sweden gets set for a semi-final rematch against Czechia

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Photo credit:Tre Kronor on Twitter
Dave Hall
1 month ago
Following a nail-biting 3-2 overtime victory over Switzerland, Sweden has advanced to the semi-finals at the World Junior Championship.
The host team is set to face Czechia in the semi-finals, who are coming off a remarkable upset in the quarterfinals after securing a 3-2 victory against Canada with the game winning goal scored just 11 seconds before the final horn.
Sweden looks to book a spot in the gold medal game, hoping to take home their first World Junior victory since 2012 and first on home soil. They have hosted six tournaments in the past, earning two silver and one bronze medal.
The Swedes have a strong historical record against Czechia, going 18-2-4 over 24 head-to-head matches at the U20 level. However, Czechia won 2-1 in overtime against Sweden in the semifinals last year en route to their first silver medal and first top-three finish since 2005.
While Sweden began the tournament strong, having gone three consecutive games without conceding a single goal, they have been humbled over their previous two matches.
Following their first defeat in their final preliminary games against the Finns, Sweden narrowly defeated the Swiss in the quarterfinals.
Even so, the Swedes carry a potent team, with a strong lineup from top to bottom, and one of the tournament’s top goaltenders in Hugo Hävelid.
This year, Czechia may not have as much talent as Sweden, but they boast players such as Buffalo Sabres prospect Jiri Kulich and Seattle Kraken prospect Eduard Sale. Kulich, who leads the AHL’s Rochester Americans with 22 points, is currently third in the tournament with eight points.
On the other side, Sweden features a strong offensive top-six, highlighted by Vancouver’s Jonathan Lekkerimäki and linemate Noah Östlund. Lekkerimäki sits fourth in points (7), and his three power-play goals lead the tournament.
In addition to their offensive prowess, Sweden has a solid defensive presence with Tom Willander and Elias Pettersson.
Willander’s plus-eight rating ranks third among all skaters, while Pettersson has been a workhorse and asserting his physical presence all tournament. Both have highly contributed to Sweden’s tournament-leading 90% penalty-kill rate.
The winner will advance to the Gold Medal game, which is set for Friday at 10:30 AM.

Vancouver Canucks prospects

Jonathan Lekkerimäki: 5GP | 4G |3A | 7PTS | +3
Tom Willander: 5GP | 1G | 1A | 2PTS | +8
Elias Pettersson: 5GP | 0G | 1A | 1PTS | -2

Remaining schedule

Semi-final
Czechia – Thursday, January 4 @ 6:00 AM (PST)
Gold Medal game
Friday, January 5 @ 10:30 AM (PST)
Bronze Medal game
Friday, January 5 @ 6:00 AM (PST)

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