Sweden's hopes of winning its first World Junior Championship gold medal since 1981 got a tremendous boost Friday, thanks to the Ottawa Senators.
The Senators have announced they will allow goaltender Robin Lehner to play at the tournament, which starts Dec. 26 in Buffalo, N.Y.
Lehner, the Senators' 2009 second-round pick, made his NHL debut earlier this season. He stopped all three shots in 4:42 of action at the start of the third period of a game against the Canadiens on Oct. 16 while goalie Brian Elliott was dealing with a skate issue, and he stopped all seven shots he saw in 30 minutes of action two nights later against the Penguins when Senators coach Cory Clouston pulled an ineffective Elliott. Lehner was Elliott's backup for seven other games before being sent back to AHL Binghamton. In seven AHL games, Lehner is 1-5-0 with a 3.18 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in seven games.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Lehner will join Sweden for their training camp Dec. 18, and is almost a lock to start when Sweden opens the 2011 World Junior Championship on Dec. 26 against Norway.
"I love Robin's ability to compete," Sweden coach Roger Ronnberg told NHL.com during the team's summer camp in Lake Placid, N.Y. "He competes every practice, every drill -- he wants to beat everybody. He doesn't like to let in any pucks."