With one game remaining in the preliminary round for most teams at the IIHF U20 World Championship, three Blackhawks prospects picked up their first points of the tournament during a high-scoring day of action. Sweden clinched the top spot in Group A after blanking Denmark 5-0 on a 48-9 shot differential, Finland picked up their second win with an 8-3 result over Slovakia, and the United States rode a six-goal first period on its way to recording an eventual 10-1 rout of Switzerland.
Defenseman Gustav Forsling scored his first goal of the tournament for Sweden on a first-period power play and totaled five shots on goal, ending the game with a +2 plus/minus rating.
Forward Radovan Bondra and blueliner Joni Tuulola went head to head as the tournament hosts recovered from an early 2-0 deficit and launched another third-period smattering of goals. Bondra, the Blackhawks’ fifth-round pick in 2015, scored Slovakia’s second goal of the game, opening his account. Tuulola was kept off the scoresheet despite being very active in the offensive zone, tallying three shots on goal in the contest as he backed up Finland’s explosive top line.
Nick Schmaltz’s first point of the tournament capped off Team USA’s six-goal first period as he tapped the puck in from just outside the crease. The 2014 first-round pick later set up Auston Matthews with a cross-ice pass while on a two-man advantage for his second point of the game. Schmaltz won eight of 14 faceoffs (57.1 percent) and finished the tilt with four shots on goal, sharing the team lead.
- Team USA jumped back into second place in Group A, securing a spot in the quarterfinals, and need either two points from Thursday’s matchup against Denmark or a Canada loss of any kind to guarantee a matchup with the third-place finisher in Group B. That spot will be determined by the New Year’s Eve tilt between Finland and Czech Republic.
- Regardless how they fare against Canada on Thursday, Sweden will face Slovakia in the quarterfinals on Saturday—the only elimination matchup that has been settled thus far, as the top spot in Group B is still up for grabs.