The last time Sweden faced Slovakia in the World Juniors was a little under a year ago, the two were knocked out in the semi-finals and faced off against each other in search of the bronze medal. That game the Slovaks took with a 4 – 2 win to take the final medal, but this time around the Swedes had a much easier task after impressing their way through Group A.
It was early in the opening frame when Sweden celebrated their first of the night, an offensive zone faceoff saw Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson pull the puck back for Joel Eriksson Ek to fire a wrist shot past Adam Huska in the Slovakian net to give Sweden a 1 – 0 lead.
Five minutes later and Sweden were at it again, with a man advantage some exceptional passing around the zone led to a scramble in front of the net and Oskar Lindblom was there to tap in the loose puck, taking the game into the first break with Sweden comfortably in charge with a two goal lead.
Sweden’s impressive passing came through for them again midway through the third period, Christoffer Ehn entered the zone before dropping the puck back to Jens Looke who found Ehn again at the back door for an easy tap in for the Detroit Red Wings prospect.
The rest of the period went by without another goal as Linus Soderstrom’s shutout bid stayed alive, blanking the Slovakian forwards through the first 40 minutes, something he kept up after an impressive stop early in the third on Lukas Hrusik which really set the tone for his game which earned him a 17 save shutout and his second of the tournament.
At the other end of the rink, Huska was having a tougher time against the dynamic Swedish offense and just three minutes into the final frame, Adrian Kempe fired a wicked wrist shot that hit the pipe before settling in the net to give Sweden a 4 – 0 lead.
Sweden were down a man minutes later as Christoffer Ehn received a roughing penalty but that didn’t stop the Swedes from pressing, breaking into the zone, Jens Looke fired an innocent looking wrist shot that Adam Huska turned aside with ease, but a wicked bounce off the boards saw the puck jump back over the cage, off Huska’s skate and across the line for an unfortunate goal for Slovakia to give up on the penalty kill.
The night was already done for Slovakia, but Alex Nylander put the final nail in the coffin with less than five minutes to go with a wicked snipe from the faceoff dot that sealed Sweden’s 6 – 0 victory and their ticket to the semi-finals.
After hosts Finland defeated Canada in a thrilling 6 – 5 victory, Sweden will face their Scandinavian rivals on Monday with a place in the finals up for grabs, and with Swedens offense only getting hotter and hotter, this should shape up to be a fantastic meeting between two sides which see’s four projected first rounders (Swedens Alex Nylander and Rasmus Asplund and Finlands Jesse Puljujarvi and Patrik Laine) facing off for a thrilling semi final.