After three days at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, both groups now have a clearer picture at the halfway point of the preliminary round. All four Blackhawks prospects were in action on Monday in Helsinki, helping their countries jockey for position in the standings.
Slovakia dropped a 2-0 decision to the Czech Republic a day after defeating Belarus 4-2 to open the tournament. Radovan Bondra has been kept off the scoresheet in those two games, collecting three shots on goal so far. The Slovakians rank fourth in Group B.
Sweden narrowly defeated the United States 1-0 to take sole possession of first place in Group A, with goaltender Linus Soderstrom standing strong to stop all 46 shots he faced. That total was a tournament high thus far, helped by large swathes of power-play time that the Americans could not take advantage of despite immense pressure.
Defenseman Gustav Forsling made his debut after sitting out Sweden’s first game due to injury, playing alongside Edmonton prospect William Lagesson. Although his ice time was limited to even strength and power play situations, Forsling totaled three shots on goal. Forward Nick Schmaltz had an eventful outing, taking two penalties but also drawing two of his own. He was held off the scoresheet, but saw plenty of time in all game situations and finished the game with five shots on goal, sharing second on Team USA.
In the third game of Monday’s slate, Finland and Russia went head to head in Group B, and the tournament hosts let a 3-1 lead slip, eventually losing 6-4 with half of those goals coming on the power play. Defenseman Joni Tuulola once again played most of his minutes at even strength and logged one shot on goal in the contest.
All four prospects will next play on Wednesday, with Sweden taking on Scandinavian neighbors Denmark, Slovakia facing Finland and the Americans taking on Switzerland.