Ostrava/Trinec, Czech Republic - Rangers prospect Karl Henriksson was named Player of the Game as Team Sweden defeated Team Kazakhstan 6-2 at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship on Monday.
"It felt good," Henriksson said. "I didn't think I would get it, but obviously that's fun."
The 58th overall pick in the 2019 draft has enjoyed being a part of Team Sweden as it chases its first WJC gold medal since 2012.
And why wouldn't he? After winning two straight games against the Finns and the Swiss, Team Sweden got its third straight victory against Team Kazakhstan, which remains winless in the tournament.
"I think we had a solid performance," Henriksson said. "We did what we had to do - maybe not more than that - but enough to win."
Playing Kazakhstan wasn't easy, even though the Swedes were the favorites ahead of the first draw.
Early on, Team Kazakhstan almost got the lead. At 10:25, Konstantin Bondarenko was stopped by the right post on the rush. Shortly thereafter, though, Sweden broke the scoreless tie. At 15:12, Samuel Fagemo scored this fourth goal of the tournament. The forward got the puck from Nils Höglander, who made a nice move getting the puck to the front of the net.
In the second, the Swedes were more focused in taking advantage of their opportunities. In a span of 5:03, they scored three times. Fagemo made it 2-0 on a power play at 2:37 before Linus Öberg tipped one in for a 3-0 lead at 4:08. At 7:40, Höglander snapped the puck past Vladislav Nurek to make it 4-0.
Sweden converted again on a power play when Jonatan Berggren got his stick on a rebound for his first goal in the tournament.
The period saw one more goal. Team Kazakhstan got to celebrate when Oleg Boiko scored on a breakaway after stealing the puck from Swedish defenseman Philip Broberg.
In the third, Henriksson got an assist when he sauced the puck to Lucas Raymond, who made it 6-1.
"There was an open area in front, so I just threw the puck in there - both [Raymond] and Alex [Holtz] were there."
The assist was Henriksson's second point in the tournament. When Sweden beat Team Switzerland on December 28th, he scored one of the team's five goals.
Playing at World Juniors has been a dream for Henriksson since he was a little kid. Now, he gets to experience it live, and he is making the most of the opportunity: He is centering a line featuring Raymond and Holtz, both expected to be top selections in the 2020 NHL Draft.
"Now that I'm are here, I understand how big it is," he said. "It's been really cool and fun so far. It's a dream that I've had since I was a kid."
Henriksson has already received a lot of credit from Sweden Head Coach Tomas Montén for his performances on the ice.
"His biggest role is to drive his line and perform well," Monten said.
Team Sweden finishes its group stage Tuesday, when Team Slovakia awaits in Were Arena, Trinec. The game is the last ahead of the quarterfinals, where Sweden will face either Team USA, Canada, Russia, Czech Republic or Germany.
"I think we have a great group of guys here," Henriksson said. "I think this could be really good for us."