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Canucks World Juniors Preview: Sweden gears up for Switzerland in the Quarterfinals

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Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Dave Hall
5 months ago
The Quarterfinal matchups are set for the 2024 World Junior Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, which take place on January 2, 2024.
Hosts Sweden (3-0-1-0), feature all three Vancouver Canucks’ prospects, and is scheduled to face Team Switzerland (1-0-0-3).
The Swedes had a very strong preliminary round, remaining perfect with zero goals allowed after three games. This included a 2-0 victory against the consistently strong Canadians, limiting them to just 21 shots.
However, they encountered their first obstacle in the tournament in game four, suffering their first defeat against Finland, dropping a 5-4 decision in a shootout to close out a 3-0-1-0 preliminary record.
Sweden finished the round-robin slate fourth in scoring, with 17 goals through four matches. Nevertheless, they led the way with five goals allowed in the tournament, with one of those goals being the shootout winner, which holds up in International play.
On the other hand, the Swiss struggled through their first four games, scoring 11 goals, with six of them coming from their single victory over the winless Norwegian team.
Although they possess an all-around team that could put up a fight at times, they lack any game-breaking talent that can single-handedly change the game.
Ultimately, they will need to rely on Sweden to falter if they hope to advance to the Semi-finals. So far, the Swedes have yet to make any costly mistakes that would suggest the possibility.
As has been the case in every match against the Swedes, penalties will be a huge factor in this one, and both teams happen to lead the tournament as the least penalized with nine minors apiece. Sweden, however, sits second in the tournament with a 42.86% success rate, with Jonathan Lekkerimäki leading the way with two goals on the man advantage.
It’s win or go home for each team, with the winner guaranteeing themselves two more games and a shot at a medal.
The semi-final schedule will be finalized as such, according to the IIHF website:
In the semi-finals the best-ranked team – criteria: 1) placement in the group, 2) points in the preliminary round, 3) goal difference in the preliminary round, 4) goals scored in the preliminary round, 5) seeding coming into the tournament – will play against the lowest-ranked semi-finalist. The 2nd-best ranked semi-finalist will play the 3rd-best ranked semi-finalist. Sweden if qualified or otherwise the best-ranked semi-finalist will play the early semi-final. The time slots will officially be determined after the quarter-final games.

Vancouver Canuck prospects

Each of the Canucks’ prospects has made significant contributions during the preliminary round, with each bringing their own brand and unique skill sets.
Jonathan Lekkerimäki, along with linemate Noah Östlund, has been an offensive force, generating scoring chances consistently. Lekkerimäki was among five players with two power-play goals in the preliminary round, contributing to Sweden’s impressive power-play.
Tom Willander has been a versatile presence, contributing to multiple aspects of the game. Whether it’s a crucial hit or a defensive shutdown, perhaps playing his part on the penalty kill, or even a game-winning goal, Willander has delivered. He’s currently on a two-game point streak with a goal and an assist, and he ranks second in plus/minus with a plus-eight rating.
Elias Pettersson has anchored the backend for Sweden, even though his minus-two rating over four games might not fully reflect his contributions. He has been the team’s most heavily used player, consistently logging over 20 minutes per game, except for one game (17:23). Pettersson has made life challenging for opponents in front of the net and displayed physicality in preventing zone entries.
Jonathan Lekkerimäki: 4GP | 3G |2A | 5PTS | +3
Tom Willander: 4GP | 1G | 1A | 2PTS | +2
Elias Pettersson: 4GP | 0G | 0A | 0PTS | -2

Remaining schedule

Quarterfinal game
Tuesday, January 2 @ 10:30 AM (PST)
Semi-final game
Thursday, January 4 @ 6:00 AM or 10:30 AM (PST)
Bronze Medal game
Friday, January 5 @ 6:00 AM (PST)
Gold Medal game
Friday, January 5 @ 10:30 AM (PST)

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