By The Canadian Press on December 26, 2023.
GOTHENBURG, Sweden – Vancouver Canucks prospect Jonathan Lekkerimaki scored twice in Sweden’s 6-0 tournament-opening win over Latvia at the world junior hockey championship Tuesday.
Lekkerimaki, who’s playing in his third world juniors, was drafted by the Canucks 15th overall in the first round of the 2022 NHL draft.
Filip Bystedt also scored twice, while Anton Wahlberg and Felix Unger Sorum had one goal each for the host country. Theo Lindstein pitched in with two assists.
Hugo Havelid stopped all 20 shots he faced for Sweden (1-0-0-0). Counterpart Deivs Rolovs made 29 saves for Latvia (0-0-0-1)
Wahlberg opened the scoring 10:02 into the first period and Sweden never looked back.
Bystedt added another in the opening frame before he and Lekkerimaki each scored in the second.
Unger Sorum and Lekkerimaki added to Sweden’s lead in the third.
The country is hosting the event for the seventh time, and the first since 2014 in Malmo.
Sweden lost 8-7 in overtime to the United States in the bronze-medal game a year ago in Halifax.
UNITED STATES 4 NORWAY 1
Gavin Brindley scored twice in a 2:33 span of the second period as the United States opened its tournament with a win over Norway.
Jimmy Snuggerud and Isaac Howard also scored for the United States (1-0-0-0). Trey Augustine made 22 saves.
Petter Vesterheim scored the lone goal for Norway (0-0-0-1) while Markus Stensrud turned away 40 shots.
Norway held the U.S. scoreless in the first period before Snuggerud sparked a three-goal American onslaught in the second.
Vesterheim cut into the lead at 4:18 of the third but Howard restored the three-goal margin just 25 seconds later.
SLOVAKIA 6 CZECHIA 2
Servac Petrovsky had two goals and an assist as Slovakia dominated Czechia in the opening game of the world juniors.
Samuel Honzek and Maxim Strbak added a goal and an assist each, while Boris Zabka and Peter Repcik also scored for Slovakia (1-0-0-0). Filip Mesar and Jozek Kmec contributed two assists each.
Adam Gajan made 27 saves to backstop the Slovakians while Michael Hrabal stopped 28 shots for Czechia (0-0-0-1).
Dominic Rymon and Matyas Sapovaliv scored for the losing side.
CANADA 5 FINLAND 2
Mathis Rousseau made 24 saves, including a spectacular glove stop in the first period, while Owen Allard and Macklin Celebrini both scored as Canada opened its title defence with a victory over Finland.
Nate Danielson added a goal and an assist for Canada (1-0-0-0) before Matthew Poitras and Maveric Lamoureux scored into the empty net as the annual under-20 tournament began.
Aleksanteri Kaskimaki and Jere Lassila scored for Finland (0-0-0-1). Niklas Kokko made 26 saves.
Canada, the two-time defending gold medallist looking for its first three-peat since 2009, has just one returning player from the 2023 event in Halifax.
On Wednesday, Canada meets Latvia, Slovakia plays Switzerland, Finland faces Germany and Norway takes on Czechia.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 26, 2023.