International Ice Hockey Federation

Sweden rolls along vs. Czechs

Sweden rolls along vs. Czechs

5-2 win makes it eight in a row

Published 26.12.2014 20:10 GMT-5 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Sweden rolls along vs. Czechs
TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 26: Czech Republic's David Pastrnak #9 plays the puck while Sweden's William Lagesson #3 chases him down during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Sweden skated to an impressive 5-2 win over the Czech Republic at Air Canada Centre tonight, its eighth straight U20 win over the Czechs going back 12 years.

The win puts Sweden on top of Group B with three points.

The last time the Czechs beat Sweden was on December 31, 2002, a 3-1 decision.

"It was good to get off to a good start in the tournament after two bad exhibition games," said Swedish forward William Nylander. "It's our first game, and we want to go far in the tournament, so we wanted to just play our game and get going."

Of course, there was a secondary story to the result of play, and that was the play of Nylander himself, the 8th overall draft choice by the local Maple Leafs this past June and a top prospect the fans here hope will lift their team to greater heights. Wearing Borje Salming’s 21, Nylander acquitted himself well in the victory.

The Swedes took a 2-0 lead in the first period on two nice goals. The first came on the power play at 14:46 when Adrian Kempe got the puck at the top of the faceoff circle and ripped a high wrist shot over the shoulder of Vitek Vanecek in the Czech goal.

Then, with just 47.5 seconds remaining in the opening period, Czech defenceman Lukas Klok made a bad pass in his end. Lucas Wallmark intercepted the pass and in one fluid motion whipped the puck in front to Jens Looke, who was alone. Vanecek stopped the first shot but Looke got his own rebound and made no mistake.

The Swedes did their best to help the Czechs get back into the game early in the second period. First, Wallmark, last man back, put the puck on the stick of David Kase, who walked in alone and outdeked himself before falling to the ice.

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But a minute later defenceman Robert Hagg did the same thing, giving Jakub Vrana a clear breakaway. Vrana snapped a quick shot along the ice between Linus Soderstrom’s pads at 3:33 to make it a 2-1 game.

Vrana tied the game midway through the period on another nice play in which he was alone in front. Ondrej Kase eluded Hagg in the corner and fired a pass to Vrana whose high shot hit the mark.

Just 27 seconds later, though, Nylander motivated the crowd into chanting choruses of “Go, Leafs, Go!” when another defensive lapse led to another goal. Oskar Lindblom intercepted the puck along the boards, fired a quick pass to Nyladner alone in front of Vanecek, and the new number 21 ripped another shot over the goalie’s stick side to give Sweden a 3-2 lead.

Kempe made it 4-2 at 5:37 of the third on a power play, finishing off a nice three-way passing play that started with Lindblom to Axel Holmstrom. Alone in front, Kempe roofed a shot calmly over Vanecek's glove.

Jacob de la Rose scored the nicest goal of the night just two minutes later to put the game out of reach. Flying down the right wing, the left-handed shot cut in on goal and roofed a beautiful backhand over Vanecek's glove.

"We got off to a great start, but then they got those two goals and we had to play well in the third to win," Nylander noted.

Sweden plays Denmark tomorrow and the Czechs take on the Swiss later that day in ACC game action.


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