Sweden showed why they’re a tournament favorite against Denmark today as 16 year old defenseman Rasmus Dahlin made the case for the Wild to tank in 2017-2018. A late goal by the Danes would make Joel Eriksson Ek’s goal the game winner.
Early into the first period, Swedish alternate captain Carl Grundström was able to get by the Danish defense on a breakaway but was stopped by Denmark’s goaltender, Lasse Petersen. Sweden would take their first penalty just after that, and the only noteworthy event to come from the Danish power play would be another Swedish breakaway. Then, after a strong board battle by Eriksson Ek, Alexander Nylander would score the first goal of the game for Sweden. Denmark responded to the goal by taking a slashing penalty that would give Sweden their first power play of the game, but while the Swedes had some good chances, they were unable to convert on the man advantage. A few minutes before the end of the period, Dahlin would thread a shot from the blue line to the goal and Eriksson Ek would capitalize on the rebound to put Sweden up 2-0.
While the score was 2-0 after the first, Denmark hadn’t been playing particularly bad. They had a fast, strong forecheck throughout the first period that forced Sweden to make quick decisions and prevented Sweden from getting more offensive zone time then they could’ve had.
Early in the second period, Jonathan Dahlen would score on the rush for Sweden, and Sweden would take a penalty shortly after. On the ensuing penalty kill, Carl Grundstrom scored a backbreaking shorthanded goal against Denmark. Denmark was able to get a few good chances during the remainder of their power play, but were ultimately unable to get a goal. Later on in the period, Dahlin scored from the blue line after a quick curl and drag around a pressuring Danish forward. Just minutes later, Nylander would tip a David Bernhardt shot into the net and put Sweden up 6-0 at the end of the third period.
The third period seemed to fly by, but it started with an uneventful Danish power play after Bernhardt took a penalty. In the waning minutes of the game, Nikolaj Krag would end Sweden’s shutout bid and put Denmark on the board for the first time.
The most notable players for Sweden throughout the game were Nylander, Eriksson Ek, and Dahlin. Besides his goal, Eriksson Ek assisted on the second Nylander goal, won plenty of board battles, and played well defensively by breaking up multiple plays. Nylander showed why he was picked 8th overall by the Buffalo Sabres with his deft hands, but Dahlin was really the most impressive player of the game. At only 16 years old, the Swedish defenseman showed a lot of skill during the game and demonstrated plenty responsibility in his own zone.
Meanwhile, Rasmus Andersson and Alex True were the two most notable players from Denmark. Andersson, a 2015 second round pick by the Calgary Flames, had four shots on goal, which was the most on the team, and looked to be Denmark’s best defenseman. Alex True went undrafted in this year’s draft and he only has 19 points in 31 games in the WHL this season, but he looked to be a threat to score at times and played well in his own zone.
Moving forward, Sweden should try to remain a little more disciplined. While Denmark was unable to convert on the power play, other teams in the group will have more talent and be more likely to score. Denmark will have to play stronger and make less costly mistakes in the defensive zone if they plan to stay in most games.
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