Impressive Swedes beat Czechs in U20 tournament

By Johan Nilsson

With continued strong goaltending and defense and creative forwards, the Swedes comfortably defeated the Czechs 5-0 in the Under-20 tournament in Sweden.

Sweden vs. Czech Republic 5-0
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Goal ScorerAssistAssist
1-0Robert Nilsson Kalle Olsson
2-0Loui Eriksson(3) Helvetica, sans-serif”>Alexander Täng
3-0Carl Söderberg Nicklas Grossman
4-0Daniel Åhsberg Linus Persson
5-0Nicklas Bergfors Robert Nilsson Ola Svanberg

Shots:

29 – 36
PIM:10 min – 16 min
Top Swedish Scorer: Robert Nilsson, 1+1

Spectacular goals by Nilsson and Eriksson

Sweden came out pretty aggressive in the first period and checked hard. Robert Nilsson, who was very good in this game, had a decent slapshot from the blue line after two minutes of play. After 3:52 defenseman Alexander Täng took a hooking penalty. The Czech power play was fairly good and winger Milan Hluchy had a couple of decent shots.

Instead of a Czech goal, Sweden opened up the scoring after 7:34. NY Islanders prospect Nilsson scored a magnificent goal on a breakaway fooling Czech goalie Vladislav Koutsky both once and twice with a few spectacular moves.

A minute after Nilsson’s goal Sweden shined on the power play. The first line with Carl Söderberg, Linus Videll and David Fredriksson had some great pressure and defenseman Johan Fransson made several excellent passes. At 11:32 Milan Hluchny interfered with Swedish goaltender Christopher Heino-Lindberg, but instead of Sweden creating scoring chances with the one man advantage, the Czechs were closest to scoring. Heino-Lindberg was however awake when a Czech forward was all alone with him.

At 14:17 Sweden scored for a second time. Once again a beautiful goal, but this time by speedy winger Loui Eriksson. He skated past a Czech defenseman and managed to very nicely put the puck past Kloutsky with a backhand shot.

With three minutes remaining of the period the Czechs were given a one man advantage when Capitals property Oscar Hedman was in the penalty box. Defenseman, Ladislav Smid, had several heavy shots, but Heino-Lindberg was in the way and Swedish defenseman Ola Svanberg was excellent disturbing the Czechs forwards and then getting the puck out of the zone.

Bergfors at times in a league of his own

The play was hesitant early in the second period and the only highlight during the first five minutes of play, was seeing Brynäs defenseman Niklas Andersson giving out a pair of big hits. When 88-born Czech forward Michael Frolik was called for a hit to the knee, Sweden displayed a well structured play with the one man advantage and Carl Söderberg quite easily made it 3-0. He got the puck from defensive giant Nicklas Grossman and easily skated around a few passive Czech defensemen and beat Kloutsky with a wrist shot from the slot.

The Swedish power play was inconsistent in this game, but at times it was superb, and especially so 14:15 into the middle period when Daniel Åhsberg made it 4-0. Åhsberg had the puck in the right corner and with a slick pass between the legs of a Czech defenseman he reached center Linus Persson behind the net. Persson looked up, waited for the defensemen to skate towards him and then passed the puck back to Åhsberg, who from a poor angle simply put the puck in net.

Shortly after Sweden’s goal the Czechs were on the power play after a holding by Nicklas Grossman. Ladislav Smid stood out once more being more than willing to release his slapper, but unfortunately for the Czechs without scoring. Blues prospect Söderberg killed the penalty very impressively.

2005 draft eligible prospect Nicklas Bergfors was arguably the best forward in the game. He played very aggressive and physical all game long and showcased first class technical skills. With about two minutes left before the break, Bergfors first played around with a few Czech forwards in the Swedish zone, tricking them several times with some smooth moves. A moment later he put up a similar show in the offensive end, getting a good pass from Robert Nilsson, skating hard and then beating Kloutsky with a wrist shot from the slot. The goal was quite similar to Söderberg’s earlier goal.

Passive third period

With a 5-0 lead for Sweden entering the third period, the play during the last 20 minutes was more passive. Big, and hardshooting winger Linus Videll stood out with a couple of nice technical moves and Nicklas Bergfors continued his convincing play. The Czech fourth line winger Bedrich Kohler demonstrated some decent stickhandling skills, but was also obviously frustrated with the result taking two unnecessary penalties.

Everyone thought Videll made it 6-0, 13 minutes into the period as he released a heavy slap shot that the goaltender could not keep. However, the goal was disallowed because a player was in the crease.

The third period was scoreless and goaltender Christopher Heino-Lindberg received player of the game honors for Sweden stopping 36 shots. For the Czechs winger Michal Polak was named the player of the game. The Czech Republic outshot Sweden 36-29, but Sweden was by far the better team and most of the Czech shots came from long distance and caused little trouble for Heino-Lindberg. The Czech defense was passive at times and overall few players stood out. Sweden on the other hand played an even better game today than yesterday against Russia and the play in all three zones worked well.

Player notes – Czech Republic

D – Ladislav Smid
Smid was the best Czech defenseman without a doubt, reading the play well and showing a very accurate slap shot. He was also sound defensively and one of few Czech defensemen the Swedes had some problems getting past.

F – Bedrich Kohler
Kohler has great size and is a good skater. Kohler was quite creative with the puck, but also took some stupid penalties, being frustrated in the third period.

F – Vladimir Sobotka
Smallish, hardworking center. Sobotka stood out delivering a couple of good hits and was one of those that worked the most on the Czech team.

F – Michal Borovansky
His play was mostly noticeable when the Czechs were one man short. He read the play impressively and had quick feet.

F – Michael Frolik
Frolik was not nearly as good as against Finland yesterday, but his playmaking skills were still first-class. No signs of being only 16 years old.

Player notes – Sweden

G – Christopher Heino-Lindberg
Heino-Lindberg had a shutout and 36 saves is obviously a terrific performance. He did leave quite a few rebounds, but did on the other hand a good job directing almost all to the side. Sweden has so far had the best goaltending in the tournament.

D – Nicklas Grossman
Usually known for his excellent defensive skills, Grossman was today quite the force in the offensive zone. He received plenty of ice time on the power play and definitely did not look out of place.

D – Ola Svanberg
Svanberg was just as good as the day before. He was excellent in his own end and as usual quite flashy when entering the offensive zone with the puck. He did not make a single mistake.

D – Johan Fransson
At times Fransson was simply brilliant, and other times he was ‘only’ great. His skating really helps him to solve difficult problems easily, and his passing game was first class in this game. Fransson has so far been the top defenseman in the tournament.

D – Oscar Hedman
Hedman did not make as many easy/safe plays as always, and struggled controlling the puck at a few occasions. He rarely has a bad game and this was not one of them, but several defensemen stood out more than him.

D – Alexander Täng
He was aggressive and solid in his own end and made a few good passes. Good game by Täng, who was scratched in yesterday’s game.

D – Niklas Andersson
A very good defensive game. Andersson played very physical and made smart decisions with the puck.

D – Anton Strålman
Warmed the bench.

D – Elias Granath
Healthy scratch

F – David Fredriksson
Fredriksson had an average game yesterday, but stood out much more today playing well along the boards. Against Russia Carl Söderberg carried Sweden’s top line, but today Fredriksson and Videll were much more involved in the play.

F – Carl Söderberg
Excellent on the penalty-killing unit and always a treat to watch with the puck, Söderberg did perhaps not have his best game, but was still very noticeable and scored a pretty goal.

F – Linus Videll
The most improved player from the game against Russia, Videll worked hard, blocked shots and displayed soft hands when handling the puck.

F – Daniel Åhsberg
After a slow start and a mediocre first period Åhsberg played convincingly in the second and third. He displayed good work ethics and was creative with the puck. Strong in shorthanded situations and a scoring threat on the power play.

F – Linus Persson
Good defensively and more noticeable in the offensive end, Persson demonstrated good playmaking skills on the power play.

F – Loui Eriksson
His goal was a thing of beauty and Eriksson never takes a night off. He did not stand out as much as against Russia, but his work along the boards and skating was as usual of high calibre.

F – Johannes Salmonsson
His work ethic and determination is impressive, however, Salmonsson needs to utilize his superior skating more. He had an average game offensively.

F – Mikael Johansson
He stood out yesterday, but was not nearly as much this time. The third line which Johansson centered having Salmonsson and Johan Harju on the wings, was the least successful line.

F – Nicklas Bergfors
The top Swedish forward in this game. Bergfors made the scouts drool with his skating, technical skills and the toughness he showed. He had several big hits in the game and despite not being very tall, he sure has some muscle and is very tough to get hold of.

F – Robert Nilsson
With Mattias Hellström being injured, Nilsson played center today. He did a good job, not only scoring an excellent goal on a breakaway, but also skating hard for the puck and doing a good days work in all three zones.

F – Kalle Olsson
Olsson was brought in for the game as Hellström’s replacement and did not look out of place. He tried to make room for his linemates Bergfors and Nilsson, and did a good job doing so.

F – Johan Harju
Good forechecking and backchecking, Harju has yet to release his powerful shot. He’s not very creative offensively and did not get involved physically, despite probably being among the strongest players on the ice.

Five Swedish stars of the game
***** Christopher Heino-Lindberg
**** Nicklas Bergfors
*** Johan Fransson
** Ola Svanberg
* Robert Nilsson

Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.