The Vancouver Canucks’ prospects got their games out of the way early on Boxing Day as the World Junior Championship began in Halifax and Moncton.
We will begin with Finland, who were upset by the Swiss in overtime.
Canucks goalie prospect Aku Koskenvuo got the start for Finland and was fine for most of the game, but likely wanted the overtime goal back that ultimately gave Switzerland an early win at the tournament.
Koskenvuo never really had to stand on his head but was likely surprised by the onslaught of shots from the Swiss team. Switzerland outshot Finland by a count of 27-16 in the game and Koskenvuo allowed three goals on those 27 shots.
Here’s a look at the three goals against Koskenvuo.
This one is pretty hard to stop as the Swiss player was left wide open in the slot.
The second goal was the result of a loose puck that Kozkenvuo couldn’t squeeze tight enough and it slipped behind him for an easy tap-in for the Swiss player.
The third and final goal came in overtime and though Koskenvuo got a piece of it, he’s likely looking back at that goal and thinking he should have been able to get all of it with his glove.
Finland is back in action on Tuesday at 8:00 AM Pacific as they battle Slovakia. We will be checking in at 8:00 AM to see if Koskenvuo is in net but with back-to-backs and a non-elite performance, we’d imagine that Finland goes with Jani Lampinen between the pipes.
Now, let’s move on to Sweden.
It was a points night for Tre Kronor as they beat up the Austrian team by a score of 11-0.
Jonathan Lekkerimäki was put on the third line and played right wing while Elias Pettersson (D-Petey) played left defence on the third pairing.
Both players saw time on special teams units. Lekkerimäki was on the power play while Pettersson was on the penalty kill.
Pettersson looked good on the penalty kill as he used his long reach to disrupt plays and was physical around his own net as he protected the paint.
As for Lekkerimäki, he began the game in the bumper position on his power play unit but later on saw some time on the left half-wall. Lekkerimäki looked a bit lost playing in the bumper position, as he didn’t set himself up to get any scoring chances off and all he was really doing in the bumper was taking up a man.
When Lekkerimäki moved to the left half-wall later in the game, he was more included in the power play and did a good job of moving the puck and getting in on loose pucks down low to extend possessions with the man advantage.
As Sweden scored 11 goals in the game, it was good to see the Canucks prospects get in on the action.
Pettersson was the first to find the scoresheet as he had a primary assist on the 4-0 goal.
Lekkerimäki followed that up later in the game when he scored an even-strength goal. He rang the wrist shot off the post and in. The goal will likely serve as a good boost of confidence for the 18-year-old as he was without a goal in the summer WJC and only has one goal this season during his Allsvenskan play.
Later in the game, Lekkerimäki made a good defensive play at his blue line and was rewarded for his efforts — picking up a primary assist on Sweden’s ninth goal of the game.
The quality of the opponent will rise throughout the tournament for Sweden as they will battle Germany on Tuesday morning at 10:30 AM. We expect to see both Pettersson and Lekkerimäki in the lineup on Tuesday when they face the Germans.
We will hopefully see the Swedes build up some confidence from a dominating performance against the Austrians and continue to play with speed as the tournament goes on.
Keep it locked here at CanucksArmy for all the latest World Junior updates surrounding Canucks prospects.