World Juniors Preview: Canucks prospects gear up for tough matchup in Sweden vs. Canada

Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Dave Hall
4 months ago
Team Sweden improved to a 2-0 record on Thursday, defeating the Germans in a convincing 5-0 fashion.
Through two games, both against lower-tiered competition, they have compiled an 11-0 goal differential, hardly facing any significant pushback from their opponents.
Well, all that is about to change, and the Swedes will need to re-calibrate quickly, as they get set to take on the high-powered Canadian team, who share the top spot in Group A.
The Canadians are coming off a 10-0 dismantling of the Latvians, a team which Sweden had beaten in their opening match by a score of 6-0.
The history is strong between the two teams, with Canada taking the bulk of the wins with a 25-10-1 record, which includes four Gold Medal wins in 1996, 2008, 2009 and 2018.
Canada beat up the Swedes in last year’s preliminary matchup, with a 5-1 decision.
Macklin Celebrini, this year’s projected first-overall prospect, will come into the game as the tournament’s points leader, with two goals and four assists through two games.
However, that won’t be Sweden’s only skater to keep a close eye on, as the team is bolstered by many highly touted drafted prospects, who are expected to give Sweden and their near-flawless defensive squad a run for their money.
Both Elias Pettersson (23:12) and Tom Willander (19:32) led the Swedish team in ice time against the Germans – Pettersson doing so for the second consecutive game – and have offered a strong two-way presence all tournament long.
However, their easy living may be put to the test on Friday as they face their greatest challenge yet against the powerhouse Canadian team.
Jonathan Lekkerimäki is off to a swimming start, showcasing strong offensive prowess in his first two games, which includes several high-danger chances and a two-goal performance against the Latvians.
He, along with linemates Noah Östlund and Anton Wahlberg, will need to be in peak form to contend with the overall proficiency of this Canadian roster.
With six points apiece, the winner of this game will earn sole possession of the top spot in Group A and with one last game against the resilient Finnish team on New Year’s Eve, securing the additional points will be crucial for Sweden.

The current table

Vancouver Canuck prospect point totals

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

Remaining preliminary schedule

Friday, December 29 @ 10:30 AM (PST) (Canada)
Sunday, December 31 @ 5:00 AM (PST) (Finland)
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