Hugo Alnefelt was the backbone of a 5-0 Team Sweden victory over the Czech Republic that has sent the team to a semi-final matchup against the Russians.
We already knew the formula for Team Sweden to have success in the elimination rounds of the World Juniors. They needed to be led offensively by their top-line, receive timely goals from depth pieces of their lineup, and continue to keep their special teams rolling.
Well, it’s safe to say the Swedes brought all that and then some in their first single elimination match against the Czech Republic.
They had an opportunity to capitalize on the powerplay early into the first period, as the team was gifted three consecutive powerplays from the Czech’s, including 30 seconds of 5-on-3 time. On their third opportunity on the man-advantage, it was no other than Nils Hoglander who opened the scoring for the Swedes.
Hoglander added another goal and assist in this game as he now slides into the lead for tournament scoring at the 2020 World Juniors with 10 points.
The one disappointment was the fact that Samuel Fagemo’s goal-scoring streak has come to an end. The forward had scored in every game so far this tournament for Team Sweden. However, he was still able to add two-assists in this matchup and was creating chances all night. Fagemo continues to lead the World Juniors in goals-scored, and trails only Hoglander in tournament points.
It appeared the Czech’s were finally gifted a chance to climb back into the game when the Swedes were given a penalty after the Czech’s were finally relieved from having to face a lengthy amount of the first period against the hottest powerplay of the World Juniors. However, that wouldn’t quite be the case as Hugo Gustaffson stripped Czech goaltender Lukas Dostal behind the net to put away a tap-in short-handed goal.
The goal was the first of the 2020 World Juniors for Gustaffson, and Winnipeg Jets prospect David Gustaffson also added his first goal of the tournament in tonight’s game. Arizona Coyotes defensive prospect Victor Soderstrom also joined the pair in scoring his first goal of the tournament when he was elected to take a penalty shot for Team Sweden. Soderstrom was able to wait out Dostal and beat him with a subtle fake shot followed with a quick release.
However, the story of the game was the shutout performance by Tampa Bay prospect Hugo Alnefelt. There was a golden opportunity for the Czech’s to get their team back within a two-goal deficit with lots of time remaining in the game, but Alnefelt stuck out his left pad just as the puck was about to cross the goal-line to protect the Swedes three-goal lead. The Swedish goaltender continued to make several big stops throughout the game on route to his 23 save shutout. Alnefelt has been a significant part of Teams Swedens success at the World Junior Championship, posting a 0.936 SV% and 1.47 GAA in his tournament-leading four wins. He also leads the entire tournament in minutes played, and will be heavily relied upon on Sweden’s quest for a Gold Medal.
The game ended with a weird play in which Swedish forward Jonatan Berggren appeared to kick a Czech player in front of their net. It’s hard to clarify whether the Detroit Red Wings prospect intentionally meant to give out the kick but it will certainly be a topic of discussion before the Semi-Final puck drop, and could potentially result in a suspension.
Yikes. #WJCon12ozSports https://t.co/vD4C8rXFHs
Next up, the Swedes take on Team Russia as they survive the first stage of the elimination round. Be sure to check back in for a full preview of the Semi-Final matchup.
Photo Credit – Tre Kronor (Twitter)