Sweden kicked off their World Juniors campaign in style with a convincing win over the Swiss on day one of the competition.
Despite the one-sided 8 – 3 victory, Sweden did suffer a blow as Toronto Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander left the game in the first period after a heavy blindside hit and wasn’t able to return. Initial reports from the Swedish camp aren’t revealing any signs of a concussion but also aren’t suggesting Nylander will be ready for the Swedes next game against the United States on Monday.
LA Kings prospect Adrian Kempe was also injured during the game, but injuries to two key players wasn’t enough to affect the Swedes efforts on route to their win on the opening day of competition.
Nylander was the first to get on the board for the Swedes, less than 90 seconds in, Nylander tapped home a rebound to go 1 – 0 up, with younger brother and 2016 Draft Prospect Alex Nylander getting the primary assist in what was a great game for the youngest player in the Swedish camp.
Oskar Lindblom increased the Swedes lead 10 minutes later, last year Lindblom was second in Swedish scoring and he kicked off his 2016 campaign with a goal, but the lead was cut into late in the period as Swiss forward Tino Kessler pulled one back for his first of the night with less than 3 minutes to go in the opening frame.
Before the period was out, Ukrainen born Swedish forward Dymtro Timashov made it 3 – 1 to Sweden after a great play to keep the puck in the offensive zone before Alex Nylander found him open on the opposite wing to bury the puck to take it into the second period with Sweden up by two goals.
Sweden entered the second period with a man advantage, then Maple Leafs prospect Timashov capitalized, rounding the net before firing a wicked wrister past Swiss goaltender Gauthier Descloux to make it a 4 – 1 game.
Just minutes later, another draft eligible player on the Swedish team, Rasmus Asplund, fired another wrist shot from the same area as Timashov to make it 5 – 1 to the Swedes.
Switzerland responded soon after, a bad angle shot from Edson Harlacher was tipped by Noah Rod, beating Swedish goalie Linus Soderstrom to barely narrow the scorline but it didn’t take long for the prolific Swedish offense to extend their lead again as Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson entered the offensive zone, pulling off one last deke to put the puck into the Swiss net which spelled the end of the day for Descloux in the Swiss net as Joren van Pottelberghe came in to replace.
Van Pottelberghe blanked the Swedes for the rest of the period, taking the game into the third period with a 6 -2 scoreline, but another Swedish powerplay gave them the opportunity to keep pumping in the goals as this time as Jacob Larsson fired a one timer into the net to make it a 7 – 2 game.
After scoring in the opening frame, Swiss forward Tino Kessler was at it again, Sweden were a man up when the bobbled the puck on the blue line when Kessler stripped a defenseman going in on Swedish goalie Soderstrom alone, before finding twine with a nice move which was nothing more than a consolation goal.
Sweden put the final nail in the coffin as Adam Ollas Mattsson tried feeding a forward in front only for the puck to be deflected by a Swiss defenseman and into the net to give Sweden an 8 – 3 victory in their opening game as they look to push ahead and avoid missing out on a medal like they did last year.
Sweden now face a tougher test against the USA on Monday as they push on in what is a very difficult Group A that also features Canada and Denmark.
Mississauga Steelheads forward Alex Nylander may have helped his draft stock after his three assists today, older brother William was the 8th selection in the 2014 draft and with Alex predicted to go in the top 10 he could go better than his brother, while fellow Swede Marcus Pettersson also registered three assists to make them two of the five players with three points so far as Finns Jesse Puljuajarvi and Sebastian Aho put up three points in their 6 – 0 win over Belarus, and Swedish forward Dmytro Timashov’s two goals and one assist also put him up in that category.