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2016 IIHF WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP: DECEMBER 28

by Kris Baker / Buffalo Sabres

The United States met a brick wall Monday in the form of goaltender Linus Soderstrom (NYI) as they were unable to score with any of their 46 shots on goal in a 1-0 preliminary round loss to Sweden at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

For the second straight game, Sabres prospect William Borgen (2015, fourth round) logged a steady defensive effort for the Americans.

William Borgen

As his blue line partner Louie Belpedio (MIN) was more active joining the offense, Borgen was strong on his skates in front of his goaltender, calmly winning battles and advancing the puck out of the zone to safety while receiving time on the second power play unit.

Borgen joined Belpedio in following the play deep in the game’s later stages as the U.S. emptied the tank, but the effort went unrewarded as a pair of penalties stifled any potential surge. Through the first two games of the tournament, Borgen has collected one assist, two shots on goal and a plus-1 rating.

The teams traded power play opportunities in the opening period, with the U.S. enjoying a 17-8 shots on goal advantage, but the first intermission arrived without a goal on the board.

The U.S. onslaught continued in the middle frame with another 22 shots being put on Soderstrom, but it was the Swedes who broke through as 2016 draft prospect Alexander Nylander of the Ontario Hockey League’s Mississauga Steelheads roofed a breakaway backhand just 2:41 in. Gabriel Carlsson (CBJ) and Dmytro Timashov (TOR) were credited with the helpers after starting the play that allowed Nylander to hit a hole in the U.S. defense.

Nylander’s tally would hold up as Soderstrom absorbed every shot directed his way, albeit with a much lighter workload in a seven-save third period, to earn Sweden’s Player of the Game honor.

U.S. goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (CAR) made 22 saves to take the loss, while defenseman Zach Werenski (CBJ) was named the Americans’ Player of the Game after recording a team-high six shots on goal.

The United States, who opened the event Saturday with a 4-2 victory over rival Canada, will look to get back on track Wednesday versus Switzerland. Sweden also gets a day off before going for their third consecutive win against Denmark.


Russia vs. Finland
Elsewhere Monday, Alexander Polunin’s goal late in the second period proved to be the game-winner as Russia closed out a wild 6-4 victory over host Finland.

Kirill Kaprizov (MIN), Andrei Svetlakov, Pavel Kraskovski (WPG), Vladislav Kamenev (NSH) and Radel Fazleyev (PHI) also scored as the Russians dug their way out of a 3-1 deficit to improve to 2-0 in Group B play heading into Tuesday’s tilt with Belarus.

Aleksi Saarela (NYR) scored twice for the Finns, while 2016 draft prospects Patrik Laine (1+2) and Jesse Puljujarvi (0+3) each recorded three-point nights. Sebastian Aho (CAR) also scored for Finland, who takes a 1-1 record into Wednesday’s matchup with Slovakia.


Canada vs. Denmark
Matt Barzal (NYI), Mitch Marner (TOR) and Dylan Strome (ARI) each notched a goal and an assist as Canada dominated Denmark 6-1. Anthony Beauvillier (NYI) and Denmark’s Alexander True traded goals in the opening frame, but it was all Canada from there.

John Quenneville (NJD), Barzal, Lawson Crouse (FLA) and Marner blew the game open with second-period markers, and Strome made a nice toe-drag before burying a high wrist shot midway through the third to complete the victory.

Canada gets right back at it Tuesday versus Switzerland. Next up for the Danes is a Wednesday meeting with Sweden.


Czech Republic vs. Slovakia
In Group B, David Pastrnak (BOS) and Dominik Lakatos supplied the goals as the Czech Republic skated to their first victory of the tournament 2-0 over Slovakia. Vitek Vanecek (WSH) made 18 saves to get the shutout and earn Player of the Game honors for the Czechs.

Both teams resume play Wednesday, with Slovakia battling Finland and the Czechs taking on Belarus.


For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects) for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action. Stay with Sabres.com throughout the World Junior Championship for daily recaps from Kris.

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