Fifty is nifty for Sweden
by Lucas Aykroyd|28 DEC 2019
Swiss starting goalie Luca Hollenstein was pulled after allowing four goals in Sweden's 5-2 win on Saturday at the World Juniors in Trinec, Czech Republic.
photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images

Samuel Fagemo scored twice as Sweden stayed unbeaten with a 5-2 victory over Switzerland, winning its 50th consecutive IIHF World Junior Championship group stage game.

Nils Hoglander and Lucas Raymond contributed a goal and an assist apiece, and Karl Henriksson scored once.

"I think we played pretty good," said Swedish defenceman Victor Soderstrom. "It was a lot of time in the offensive zone, where we know we've got to practice that. I think we'll have that as a positive thing at the end of the tournament. It was a good win and I think all the guys are happy."

Gilian Kohler had a goal and an assist, and Nico Gross also scored for Switzerland.

"We started off kind of cold," said Gross, playing in his fourth World Juniors. "We had a lot of turnovers and didn't play our game. They scored on us a couple of times. I thought in the third we came back stronger and played our game. That was definitely our best period today."

Saturday's win was a tiny slice of revenge for Switzerland’s 2-0 quarter-final upset over Sweden in Victoria last year. Frankly, it was the ruthless performance most observers had expected the Juniorkronorna to deliver on 2 January 2019 at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

"We talked a lot about revenge for the quarter-finals last year," said Swedish assistant captain David Gustafsson. "That was a big disappointment for us, and it was nice to play against them again."

Now it’s a new season and a new opportunity. In front of 4,109 fans at Werk Arena, Swedish goalie Hugo Alnefelt earned his second World Junior win, with shots even at 27-27.

Switzerland vs. Sweden - 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship
Samuel Fagemo scored twice as Sweden stayed unbeaten with a 5-2 victory over Switzerland, winning its 50th consecutive IIHF World Junior Championship group stage game.
28 DEC 2019

At 3:25, Fagemo hustled into the slot after a faceoff in the Swiss end and one-timed Soderstrom’s feed past Swiss netminder Luca Hollenstein’s right skate for a 1-0 lead. The 19-year-old Frolunda attacker amusingly slid into the corner on his rear end as he celebrated to “En For Alla For En,” the classic Poodles number that brought Tre Kronor home-ice gold at the 2013 IIHF World Championship in Stockholm.

Halfway through the first period, Hoglander outbattled and outsmarted two Swiss defenders on the rush and slid the puck over to Fagemo for his second of the night.

It wasn’t as fancy as Hoglander’s “Michigan goal” in the opening 3-2 overtime win over Finland, in which he was named Sweden’s player of the game. Yet it showcased the versatility and tenacity of this 2019 second-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks.

Epitomizing the tough night that Switzerland was having, defenceman Fabian Berri tried to step up on Sweden’s Nico Pasic at the Swiss blue line late in the period. The Swedish forward dodged away and Berri went down in an awkward heap. When he got up, he was sent to the box for tripping.

Hoglander continued to create buzz early in the second period on the power play. First, the Rogle BK winger quickly faked his signature lacrosse move behind Hollenstein’s net. Then, he skated in front to tip Nils Lundkvist’s blue line blast and put the Swedes up 3-0 at 1:28. That quashed Switzerland’s comeback hopes.

In another weird incident, Swiss defenceman Mika Henauer demonstrated the value of eye protection when Soderstrom’s rising wrist shot knocked his visor off right in front of Hollenstein. Henauer went to the bench for helmet repairs and kept on playing.

Raymond, the hat-trick hero of Sweden's overtime gold medal victory versus Russia at the 2019 U18 Worlds in Ornskoldsvik, made a lovely play for his first World Junior point. The 17-year-old Frolunda product looped around the Swiss zone and fed Henriksson in front for his first World Junior goal at 9:02. Hollenstein was then pulled in favour of backup Stephane Charlin.

Of Raymond, Gustafsson said: "He's a really good, skilled player and a good guy. I really think he can do some good things for us this tournament."

At 14:12, Raymond, cool as can be, took Jonatan Berggren's saucer pass from behind the net and hammered a power-play one-timer past the newcomer to make it 5-0.

Coach Thierry Paterlini's team got a smidgen of redemption with 12 seconds left in the middle frame. Kohler broke Alnefelt's goose egg with a video-reviewed goal. It came after captain Adam Ginning was assessed a minor and misconduct for boarding.

The third period saw the Swedes ease up defensively at times. Simon Knak and Gaetan Jobin failed to connect on a 2-on-0 rush on Alnefelt. The fans amused themselves by doing the wave as the clock ticked down toward the inevitable result. Gross scored with 5:51 left to make it 5-2, but that was as close as the Swiss would get.

"I just got the puck at the blue line, kind of stepped down and shot a wrister," said Gross. "It just went in. In the end it didn't help us today, but hopefully next time."

Sweden and Switzerland both get a day off on Sunday. In Monday's Group A action, the Swedes take on Kazakhstan and the Swiss face Slovakia.

Gustafsson said it would be unwise to underestimate the Kazakhs: "Last year, we went out against Switzerland. We can see anything can happen. So we've gotta play our best, even against Kazakhstan."

Switzerland vs. Sweden - 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship