Team Sweden picked up their second win of the 2021 World Junior Championships (WJC) on Monday. They beat Austria, 4-0, to become the only team in group B with a 2-0-0-0 record.
Noel Gunler opened the scoring for Sweden with a first-period power-play goal. In the second period, Theodor Niederbach and Gunler extended the lead to 3-0. Lucas Raymond scored the lone third-period goal to give Sweden a final score of 4-0.
Terror Twins on the Board
Despite generating scoring opportunities against the Czech Republic, the Terror Twins, Raymond and Alexander Holtz, struggled to finish. Raymond had one point in the game, while Holtz did not register a single point.
Against Austria, the Terror Twins combined for three points. Raymond assisted on Niederbach’s power-play goal. After an injury scare in the second period, Raymond returned to the game and scored in the third period, assisted by Holtz.
As long as Raymond and Holtz perform, Sweden will have a chance to win games. Their toughest matchups will be in their next two preliminary games against Russia and the USA. Therefore, the two need to continue finishing on their scoring opportunities.
Gunler’s 2-Goal Game
Gunler was selected 41st overall in the 2020 NHL draft by the Carolina Hurricanes. The 2020 second-round pick is off to a hot start at the 2021 WJC, as he has scored three goals in the first two games of the tournament. He now leads the team with three goals.
Gunler’s second goal came at an important point of the game. As Raymond had left the game, the Hurricanes’ prospect put the puck past Austria’s goaltender, Sebastian Wraneschitz, in the second period to extend the lead to 3-0.
Sweden’s Power Play Leads the Way
Sweden’s power play once again came through for the club. They scored on three of their six opportunities in their last game against the Czech Republic and scored on two of their four opportunities against Austria.
Playing on the man advantage has been the team’s strength so far at the 2021 WJC. Gunter’s first goal and Niederbach’s lone goal came on the powerplay, which gave the team a 2-0 lead. Goals were tough to come by for Sweden as they had 65 shots on goal but only managed to score two goals at even strength.
Austria’s Tremendous Goaltending
Although Austria lost 4-0, Wraneschitz stood out. The Austrian goalie made 61 saves in the game, keeping his team in it. The Swedes outshot their opponents 65 to six on Monday.
They opened the first period, peppering Wraneschitz with 22 shots, but the goaltender only gave up one goal in the period. In the following period, he faced 25 shots and allowed two goals, and in the third period, he faced 18 shots and gave up one goal. Sweden outpowered Austria, but Wraneschitz made sure the game didn’t get out of hand.
Sweden Continues to Win in Preliminary Round
Sweden has now won 54 straight games in the preliminary round at the WJC. Through their first two games, Sweden has dominated their opponents. They’ve outscored Austria and the Czech Republic 11-1.
Sweden was able to win on Monday without their captain, Philip Broberg, who was out with an undisclosed injury and did not play for precautionary reasons. Sweden’s head coach Joel Ronnmark said the plan is for Broberg to play against Russia on Wednesday night.
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Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.