With a 4-1 win over Kazakhstan on Monday, Sweden locked up first place in Group B and booked a quarter-final date with Switzerland.
Five Swedish skaters were out of the lineup due to illness: defencemen Adam Ginning and Philip Broberg and forwards Rickard Hugg, Filip Sveningsson, and Johan Södergran. But coach Tomas Montén’s boys played hard and made sure neither the U.S. nor Finland could grab that top seed.
Switzerland came fourth in Group A. Historically and statistically, Wednesday’s quarter-final matchup favours the Swedes, who are unbeaten in Victoria. The Swedes have won nine straight World Junior games against Switzerland and 20 overall, with just three losses. However, the Swiss fought tooth and nail in their losses to the Czech Republic (2-1), Canada (3-2), and Russia (7-4), and cannot be taken lightly.
Against Kazakhstan, Rasmus Sandin led the way with two goals and an assist for Sweden, and Emil Bemström and Nils Lundkvist added singles.
Batyrlan Muratov replied for the Kazakhs.
Both goalies made their World Junior debut. Sweden’s Ole Eriksson Ek got the win, while Kazakhstan’s Denis Karatayev got a workout. Final shots favoured Sweden 56-11.
Taking a methodical approach, Sweden built its first-period lead against coach Sergei Starygin’s Kazakh team, which was coming off an 11-2 loss to Slovakia less than 24 hours earlier.
Unlike Slovakia, which scored two goals in the first minute versus Kazakhstan, Sweden took 7:10 to get on the board. Oskar Bäck skated in and deftly dished the puck cross-crease to Bemström for an easy tap-in, his fourth goal of the tournament. Bemström is tied with captain Erik Brännström for the team goals lead.
At 12:13, Sandin made it 2-0 when he sashayed through the right faceoff circle and scored with a high shot.
At 16:49, with the Kazakhs scrambling around their fallen goalie, Lundkvist picked off a failed clearing attempt at the centre point and fired it home for Sweden’s third goal.
During that first period, Montén had to be pleased with the way his team played a 200-foot game, outshooting Kazakhstan 24-1.
One Canadian observer quipped between periods about Kazakhstan: “If there’s one thing they’re good at, it’s getting the fans to cheer!”
During the scoreless second period, Karatayev drew wild applause when he foiled Pontus Holmberg on breakaways. Chants of “Let’s go, Kazakhstan” resounded, as they have throughout Group B action at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. The former Soviet republic kept on pushing, but couldn’t match the undermanned Swedes’ speed, skill and defensive awareness.
In the third period, Kazakhstan finally cashed in with the power play at 9:46, as Muratov scored his first goal of the tournament. Once more, the Victoria fans happily sang Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” But that was as sweet as it would get for the underdogs.
With a big left point drive, Sandin rounded out the scoring for Sweden with 39 seconds left.
07:10 – 🇸🇪 GOAL – Bemström (Bäck, Sandin)
12:13 – 🇸🇪 GOAL – Sandin (Lundeström)
13:33 – 🇰🇿 PEN – B. Muratov, high sticking
16:49 – 🇸🇪 GOAL – Lundkvist
18:20 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Brännström, unsportsmanlike conduct
27:07 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Fagemo, tripping
48:32 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Gustafsson, slashing
49:46 – 🇰🇿 PP GOAL – B. Muratov (Orekhov, Sam. Daniyar)
52:55 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Elvenes, tripping
53:29 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Sandin, delay of game
59:21 – 🇸🇪 GOAL – Sandin (Gustafsson)
W: 🇸🇪 Eriksson Ek (10-11)
L: 🇰🇿 Karatayev (52-56)
SHOTS ON GOAL
🇸🇪 24+17+15 = 56
🇰🇿 1+4+6 = 11
🇸🇪 Goaltenders: Olle Eriksson Ek, Samuel Ersson. Defence: Adam Boqvist, Erik Brännström (C), Nils Lundkvist, Rasmus Sandin, Filip Westerlund. Forwards: Emil Bemström, Oskar Bäck, Lucas Elvenes, Samuel Fagemo, David Gustafsson, Pontus Holmberg, Filip Hållander, Isac Lundeström (A), Jacob Olofson, Fabian Zetterlund (A).
🇰🇿 Goaltenders: Denis Karatayev, Demid Yeremeyev. Defence: Samat Daniyar (A), Yaroslav Khripkov, Artyom Korolyov, David Muratov, Yernar Musabayev, Valeri Orekhov (A), Yevgeni Shinkaretski. Forwards: Oleg Boiko, Andrei Buyalski, Sayan Daniyar (C), Ruslan Dyomin, Artur Gatiyatov, Dias Guseinov, Davyd Makutski, Dmitri Mitenkov, Batyrlan Muratov, Maxim Musorov, Danil Tretiakovski, Ivan Vereshagin, Aidos Zhorabek.
|🇸🇪 SWEDEN (C)
(since 26 Dec 2018)
|First IHLC Meeting (SWE vs. KAZ)
|Previous IHLC Meeting (SWE vs. KAZ)
|Last IHLC Game
🇸🇪 SWE 5-4 USA 🇺🇸 (OT) – 29 Dec 2018 – WJC – Victoria 🇨🇦
|Next IHLC Game
🇨🇭 SUI 2-0 SWE 🇸🇪 – 02 Jan 2019 – WJC – Victoria 🇨🇦