OTTAWA – Sweden has met all expectations so far at the world junior hockey championship, and now it’s time to see if they can continue to excel as things get tougher.
Magnus Svensson Paajarvi scored two goals and assisted on two others Monday afternoon as Sweden routed Latvia 10-1.
Nicklas Lasu also had two goals for the Swedes, who improved to 3-0-0 at the tournament with one game remaining in the preliminary round. The Swedes face Russia on Wednesday afternoon, potentially with a semifinal berth at stake.
“This was a pretty easy game. We did what we had to do and we won I think we’re going to win the next game,” said Swedish defenceman Erik Karlsson, who, along with Simon Hjalmarsson and Joakim Andersson, had a goal and two assists for Sweden.
Andre Petersson, David Ullstrom and Mattias Tedenby each added a goal.
“Now is when the hard part starts and I think we’re ready for that,” Karlsson added. “Now the fun begins. We have high expectations of ourselves because we know we have a good team. We feel we have the skills that are needed to take home the trophy. Yes there’s pressure but I think we can handle it.”
Mark Owuya was pretty relaxed in the Swedish goal as he faced just 11 shots. Sweden outshot Latvia 61-11.
Roberts Jekimovs had the only goal for the Latvians, who are 0-3-0 and close out their preliminary round against Finland (0-2-0) on Tuesday night.
The Latvians managed to keep the score relatively respectable for two periods, trailing 6-1 after 40 minutes, but as was the case in their previous two games at the tournament, they just ran out of gas.
They were outscored 4-0 in the third and were unable to beat Owuya during a two-man advantage for the final 26 seconds of the game, despite getting three shots.
“It doesn’t (matter) if you get 40 shots or 10 shots, you have to focus on the next one. Of course I’d rather have 40 shots than 10,” Owuya said, afterwards joking about the late barrage of shots by Latvia.
“I was thinking of my (save) percentage. It was just below 90 so I need two more shots. Luckily they were easy ones although I lost my balance on the last one.”
Andersson scored at 33 seconds of the final frame and Karlsson gave Sweden an 8-1 lead exactly a minute later. Ullstrom scored a power-play goal at 8:31 and Lasu closed out the scoring with his second of the game at 9:18.
Hjalmarsson had the only goal in the second period and it gave Sweden a 6-1 lead.
Sweden completely dominated the first period outshooting Latvia 26-1 and outscoring them 5-1.
The only area of the game that Latvia was better in the first period was shooting percentage as Jekimovs scored with seven seconds left on his team’s only shot.
By that point that game had already been decided as the Swedes built a 5-0 lead and chased Latvian starter Raimonds Ermics from the goal after he allowed three goals on 17 shots.
Tedenby opened the scoring at 2:13 on the power play and Svensson Paajarvi scored the first of his two goals at 9:15 to put Sweden up 2-0.
Petersson scored at 13:42 for a 3-0 Swedish lead and an early exit for Ermics.
Nauris Enkuzens came on to replace Ermics and allowed goals by Svensson Paajarvi at 17:39 and Lasu at 19:10.
Jekimovs then scored on a nice pass from Janis Ozolins to draw the biggest cheer of the game from the crowd of 9,622.
“It was great to get that goal on the first shot, but I credit my linemates for setting me up with a wide open net to put it in,” Jekimovs said.