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World Juniors Recap: Sweden 5, Switzerland 2

Henriksson, Lundkvist help Sweden beat Switzerland in second group-stage game

by Peter Ekholm @ekholmpeter

Ostrava/Trinec, Czech Republic - New York Rangers prospect Karl Henriksson scored and Nils Lundkvist tallied an assist as Team Sweden continued their success at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship on Saturday, winning 5-2 against Switzerland. 

The victory was Team Sweden's second of the tournament and 50th straight. They haven't lost a WJC group stage game since New Years Eve 2006, a 3-2 loss to Team USA.

Team Sweden didn't give Switzerland much of a chance in the first. It took them 3:25 to score the first goal of the game. Following a faceoff win, forward Samuel Fagemo (LA Kings) got the puck in the slot and finished the play with a one-timer. 

Fagemo scored his second goal of the game soon after, tipping in forward Nils Hoglander's pass near Team Switzerland's crease midway through the first.

Switzerland didn't have much offense in the first, testing Swedish goaltender Hugo Alnefelt just eight times. Taking four penalties in the period didn't help, as Sweden went into intermission with a man advantage. 

"The Swedes were pretty good. We started off kind of cold, had a lot of turnovers and didn't play our game. They scored on us a couple times. I think we came back in the third and played our game. That was our best period tonight," Rangers prospect Nico Gross said. 

Team Sweden's power play continued into the second period. Hoglander showed his offensive skill redirecting a shot from Nils Lundkvist to make it 3-0. Karl Henriksson made it 4-0 after a great solo effort by forward Lucas Raymond. Raymond, draft eligible in 2020, held onto the puck before setting up Henriksson with an open net. Following the Rangers prospect's goal, Switzerland goaltender Luca Hollenstein was replaced by Stephane Charlin.

"He is solid. He gets to score a goal which obviously is fun, but his biggest role is to drive his line and perform well," Sweden's head coach Tomas Montén said of Henriksson.

"He stands for speed and hard work. I think he does that. We also used him as a winger at the end. He is a very useful player for us."

Team Sweden didn't take their foot off the gas, making it 5-0 late in the second. This time Raymond scored on a pass from forward Jonatan Berggren (Detroit).

"I am very happy with our first two periods. We scored goals, we attacked and we scored on the power play which is a big step forward for us. We played quick and wanted to attack. That was kind of a dilemma against Switzerland last year. We knew they are a tough team to play against if they are tight defensively," coach Montén said.

Switzerland got on the board on a power play with 12.7 seconds remaining in the second period. Forward Gilian Kohler scored on an impressive move making it 5-1. In the third, Team Sweden controlled the pace, making it hard for Switzerland to create chances. Henriksson had a breakaway early in the period, but couldn't convert on a backhand move. 

Gross scored for the Swiss with 5:51 remaining in the third. The defenseman, drafted in the fourth round in 2018, made a nice move to open up space before finishing with a wrist shot. 

"I got the puck at the blue line, shot a wrister and it went in. It didn't help us today, hopefully it does next time," Gross said of his first goal of the tournament.

For Gross and Switzerland, the loss was their first in the tournament following a 5-3 win against Team Kazakstan on Thursday. Team Switzerland's next game is on Monday against Team Slovakia, who also have a 1-1-0 record. 

"I think we showed character in the end, and that's something that is really important for us, for confidence and showing that we can play those guys. We did a good job in the third, we must do it over 60 minutes," Gross said.

Lundkvist, Henriksson and the rest of Team Sweden plays Kazakstan on Monday before finishing the group stage against Team Slovakia on Tuesday. 

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