It was the first game for both Group B teams and extended Sweden’s remarkable streak of wins in the preliminary round to 53, dating back some 14 years. Their last loss in the first round of play came at the hands of the United States, 3-2 in overtime in Leksand, Sweden, on December 31, 2006.
As well, the last time the Czech U20 team beat Sweden was nearly two decades ago, December 31, 2002, after which followed a streak of now 12 Sweden wins.
"The Czechs are a good team," said Swedish defenceman Philip Broberg, who had three assists for the winners along with another blueliner, Victor Soderstrom. "We scored on our opportunities and played consistently well for most of 60 minutes. The first ten wasn't our best, but you can understand why: We didn't have a pre-season game, but we got better as the game went on, and we played our best period in the third. We're trying to build our game and I'm happy with how we played."
The Czechs now have a little more than 24 hours to regroup before playing Russia tomorrow night, while the Swedes have a day off before facing Austria on Monday afternoon.
"We just stopped playing, and they kept on scoring," conceded Czech forward Filip Koffer. "We have to forget about this game and start thinking about tomorrow."
"We started well, but once they got that power-play goal in the second, we couldn't come back," coach Karel Mlejnek achnowledged. "All we can do now is prepare for tomorrow."
The Czechs gave Sweden all it could handle in the first, going end to end with the favourites and opening the scoring on a power play at 10:14. The goal came courtesy of a nice three-way passing play between Michal Teply, along the left-wing boards, Jaromir Pytlik, stationed to the side of the goal, and the scorer, Jan Mysak, who snapped the pass from the back-door side to beat Hugo Alnefelt cleanly.
The ink was barely dry on the recording of that goal when Arvid Costmar had a clean break, but he was stoned by Nick Malik in the Czech goal. On the same sequence, though, Soderstom made a brilliant pass from the point to Costmar, driving to the net, and Costmar tipped the puck deftly past Malik just 32 seconds after Mysak’s goal, tying the game at one.
Teply thought he had given his team a lead a few minutes later when his quick shot from in close was headed inside the short-side post, but Alnefelt got his glove over and made a sensational save.
Or did he?
Replays looked like the goalie might have made the save with his glove behind the red line, but video review failed to provide an angle to substantiate that theory, and the call on the ice stood—no goal…great save.
Special teams played an important role as the game changed in the second. The Swedes went ahead 2-1 on the power play when Malik overplayed Simon Holmstrom’s shot from the slot. The puck went wide and came out the other side where Albin Sundsvik tucked it in before the goalie could get over.
Less than three minutes later, they extended their lead on a short-handed goal. A clearing puck bounced over the stick of Czech defenceman Martin Has pinching at the Swedes’ blue line, and Emil Heineman scooped up the puck and dashed the length of the ice, beating Malik with a shot between the pads.
And then Sweden made it 4-1 at 16:05 on a similar play to Sundvik’s goal. This time it was a wide shot by Broberg that bounced out the other side to Theodor Niederbach, who again had the open net after Malik overplayed the original shot. It was the third assist of the period for Broberg, who is playing in his third World Juniors and was drafted 8th overall by Edmonton in 2019.
By the third period the Czechs had nothing in the tank, and the Swedes were overpowering. Elmer Soderblom made it 5-1 early in the third showcasing highlight-reel hands on the power play. He got the puck at the top of the crease and put it between his legs, along with his stick, before scoring off the far post.
They made it 6-1 at 12:22 thanks to a nice pass by Tobias Bjornfot as he circled the net, Oscar Bjerselius, finishing the play. Noel Gunler closed out the scoring with another power-play score, their third of the game, at 17:37.