Swedes start U17s with exciting victory over Finland

Swedes start U17s with exciting victory over Finland

Steven Ellis03 Nov 2018Steven Ellis»

The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge couldn't have asked for a better start in Quispamsis, N.B., taking a two-goal lead twice to defeat their Scandinavian rivals 6-1 on Saturday afternoon.


The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge couldn't have asked for a better start in Quispamsis, N.B., taking a two-goal lead twice to defeat their Scandinavian rivals 6-1 on Saturday afternoon.

It should come as no surprise that the star of the game was Alexander Holtz. One of the top prospects for the 2020 NHL draft, Holtz took advantage of a miscue by Finland in Sweden's zone and broke down the ice all alone. Holtz, who was one of the top players at the Under-18 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup back in August, made a quick move on the backhand to give the Swedes the 1-0 lead at 4:53.

The Swedes thought they had a 2-0 advantage a few minutes later, but the goal would be waved off. Holtz's shot appeared to go in and out of the net very quickly, but with no video replay to reference, it was not conclusive that the puck actually crossed over the line.

Sweden did score their second goal of the game early in the second, though. At 7:22, Erik Hedlund kept the puck from getting out of the offensive zone with a nice poke check, quickly regaining the disk before sending it top corner past Joel Blomqvist and in to double Sweden's advantage.

The Finns would cut their deficit in half before the end of the first. At 14:04, a slick passing play by Oliver Suni and Topi Niemela resulted in Roby Jarventie getting the puck to the right side of the net. Jarventie would tip in the pass at the doorstep to beat Jesper Wallstadt, giving Finland their first goal of the tournament.

Sweden would regain their two-goal lead midway through the third. Samuel Eriksson and Mateusz Szurowski did a fantastic job of forcing a turnover to the left of the Finnish net, with Eriksson grabbing the puck before the Finns could regain it. He'd wait until William Hallén made his way into the slot, with William Hallén sending the puck past Blomqvist to make it 3-1.

One of the few players in the game with pro experience, Lucas Raymond, would give the Swedes the 4-1 lead late in the game. The SHL forward was in the right place at the right time when he picked up the rebound off of a shot by Emil Andrae just in front of the blue line to take the three-goal lead. Before the final buzzer, Sweden would score two late goals to make it 6-1, a score that didn't accurately represent how close of a game it was.

Playing on the opening day of action means both squads will have Sunday off, with Finland starting off Day 3 on Monday at 12:00 PM local time. Sweden will play Canada Red in the late game that night before meeting the Russians on Tuesday.

Follow me on Twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

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