It’s the “Battle of Scandanavia” for bronze as Sweden and Finland hit the ice in the Czech Republic.
Two teams with a long history of facing off at the IIHF World Junior Championship meet again on Sunday in a rematch of the 2014 gold medal game that Finland won in overtime. That win kick-started a decade in which the Finns win three gold medals; Sweden has not won the title since 2012.
Neither team has won bronze in more than 10 years — Sweden in 2010 and Finland in 2006; however, they’ll be aiming for the prize this year to avoid going home empty-handed.
The teams met in the opening game of Group A pool play when the Swedes won 3-2 in overtime. It was a dandy of a game that saw Vancouver Canucks prospect Nils Hoglander tie the game at one with a lacrosse-style goal. Alexander Holtz netted the game-winner and the Swedes would not lose a single game until Saturday’s semifinal loss to Russia. The country has dominated preliminary play since 2008, collecting a 52-0 record; however, in those 12 years, they’ve only won one gold, five silvers and one bronze medal.
A squad jam-packed with talent, they’ve potted a tournament-high 29 goals while allowing the fewest (13, tied with Russia). Hoglander has netted 10 points (five goals, five assists); however, while he was ejected from the semis after delivering a high hit — he has not been suspended and will play Sunday. Samuel Fagemo, the Los Angeles Kings 2019 second-round pick, is first in goals scored with seven. Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin has dominated the game at both ends and potted two goals in the semifinal game. Hugo Alnefelt, who looked shaky at the start but settled down against Russia, is expected between the pipes on Sunday.
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Finland is coming off a 5-0 trouncing by Canada in the other semifinal. Justus Annunen had played well in the tournament — posting a .921 save percentage — but struggled against the high-powered Canadian offense. The Finns have a strong blue line with puck movers that can score from above the circles. They’ll lean heavily on veteran defenders Anttoni Honka, Ville Heinola and Toni Utunen to settle the defense and help generate offense. Kristian Tanus has been one of Finland’s top forwards, as he set up the game-winning goal against the United States with a no-look pass; he leads the team with eight points (two goals, six assists). Patrik Puistola, a Carolina Hurricanes prospect, is their top goalscorer with four markers.
Sporting News has all the action as Sweden and Finland battle for the bronze medal at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Sweden vs. Finland scores, highlights from 2020 World Juniors bronze medal game
(All times are Eastern)
Second period: Sweden 3, Finland 2
10:30 a.m. — Swedish netminder Hugo Alnefelt appears to tweak something as he spreads out for a save. He stays in the game.
10:26 a.m. — Finland probably had the best chances during the Swedish power play. Sandin takes another penalty to even things up and then give Finland more than 90 seconds of power-play time.
10:23 a.m. — The Swedes will get a chance to extend their lead as Ville Heinola takes a penalty.
10:22 a.m. — GOAL. Linus Oberg — from the goal line — throws the puck on net and it goes in off the left skate of netminder Justus Annunen. Sweden takes its first lead of the game. Sweden leads 3-2.
10:16 a.m. — GOAL. Justus Annunen makes the initial save but can’t control the rebound and Samuel Fagemo cleans it up. Game tied 2-2.
10:12 a.m. — Rasmus Sandin called for interference and the Finns head to the power play.
10:09 a.m. — Albin Eriksson rings one off the pipe. Sweden comes close to tying this one up.
10:07 a.m. — Lucas Raymond with a ridiculous move around a Finnish defender but he shoots the puck wide. Raymond is a 2020 draft prospect.
10:03 a.m. — Sweden heads to the power play.
10:00 a.m. — Second period underway.
First period: Finland 2, Sweden 1
9:40 a.m. — GOAL. Nils Hoglander with a horrendous turnover at the blue line — just passes it to Matias Maccelli who skates in and scores. Finland leads 2-1.
9:38 a.m. — Back to even strength.
9:35 a.m. — Just as the Swedish power play ends, Victor Soderstrom gets called for tripping — the Finns will head to the power play.
9:34 a.m. — Samuel Fagemo rifles a wrister that looked — and sounded — like it went off the mask of Justus Annunen.
9:32 a.m. — Sweden heads back to the power play.
9:27 a.m. — PP GOAL. Rasmus Sandin has been an offensive threat in the tournament. The Toronto Marlies defenseman gets the pass at the point, walks in and fires the wrister past Justus Annunen. Game tied 1-1.
9:26 a.m. — Finland’s power play is done as Nousiainen is called for holding. They’ll skate 4-on-4 for 30 seconds and then Sweden gets a power play.
9:23 a.m — Nils Lundkvist gets called for slashing and after scoring a goal, the Finns head to the power play.
9:22 a.m. — Quick review as it looked like it went off his skate but it’s a good goal.
9:21 a.m. — GOAL. Kim Nousiainen skates around the net, turns and shoots. The puck goes off Patrick Puistola and past Alnefelt. Finland leads 1-0.
9:16 a.m. — Back to even strength and still scoreless.
9:14 a.m. — Sweden has a good chance as the shot trickles just wide of the net.
9:12 a.m. — Finland has had the best chances thus far but Sweden will get the first power play of the game.
9:09 a.m. — Finland gets an early chance but Hugo Alnefelt made the stop.
9:09 a.m. — Game on.
9:04 a.m. — Nils Hoglander will play for Sweden.
8:45 a.m. — Lineups.