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Sweden Smashes Canada in Opener


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Teams love to talk about making fast starts in tournaments. In Ajoie, Sweden started at the speed of light. Five goals from seven shots in 13:28 of the opening period unequivocally announced that the defending champion was back in business.

“Canada are a good team, but we came out strong at the start of the game,” said Swedish defender Theo Lindstein. “We got a few nice goals and after the first two we just kept going.”

Impressively, this was not a case of an established powerhouse flexing on a newly-promoted outsider. Sweden inflicted that damage on Canada, a roster hotly tipped to contest the medals here. A final score of 8-0 threw down a gauntlet to the competition here in Switzerland, while the Canadians’ unhappy afternoon was compounded by two players ejected from the game for foul play.

The Tre Kronor swarmed onto the offense from the opening puck drop and wasted little time in building a lead. In the fourth minute, Otto Stenberg got the first goal of this year’s championship. The Swedish captain, returning in search of a second gold, broke the deadlock with a snipe off a Tom Willander feed.

That opened the floodgates. Eighty seconds later, Axel Sandin Pellikka intercepted a Canadian clearance at the point and Noel Nordh redirected his shot past Carson Bjarnason. The third came when Noah Dower Nilsson struck on the wraparound, then Sandin Pellikka continued to burnish his draft prospects with an unstoppable point shot. By the time Anton Wahlberg exchanged passes with Zeb Forsfjall to make it 5-0, there was an air of disbelief in the arena.

Sandin Pellikka produced a stand-out performance, finishing with a goal and four assists. That was no surprise for his defensive partner Lindstein. “He’s a great player, I enjoy playing alongside him,” said Sweden’s alternate captain. “He’s easy to play with and he does a good job every game.”

Canada responded by replacing the unfortunate Bjarnason with Gabriel D’Aigle and at least managed to stem the flow of goals in the latter half of the opening frame. However, it was telling that the hotly-tipped Macklin Celebrini, expected to be an offensive force in this tournament, was more frequently seen on defensive duty. By the second period, he was also moved away from the first line, with Tanner Howe playing alongside Colby Barlow and Andrew Cristall.

The middle frame brought one further Swedish goal – Forsfjall shooting home a power play marker from the top of the circle as Wahlberg screened D’Aigle. But late in the session, it also brought further problems for Canada when Porter Martone was ejected from the game for boarding following a video review.

That power play became a two-man advantage early in the third. Stenberg took advantage to grab his second of the game, making the most of the extra space to shoot home from between the hash marks.

Canada had not lost by a seven-goal margin in this tournament since the bronze medal game in 2016 and went in search of a consolation effort. Cam Allen rang the iron midway through the final frame, but his team suffered a further blow when Caden Price followed Martone to the locker room early after an elbowing call. Another long power play saw Felix Unger Sorum make it 8-0 to complete the rout. Noah Erliden marked his first appearance at this level with a debut shut-out after stopping 30 shots.

Source : IIHF

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