As the holiday break starts to end and the 2020 World Under-20 Championship is underway, our vacation is over so it is back to work. As one of the few who didn’t watch Russia’s 6-0 spanking of Canada, I was watching three New York Ranger prospect in action in Group “B” action.
Sweden with Ranger prospects Nils Lundqvist (2018 first) and Karl Henriksson (2019 second) dominated Switzerland with Nico Gross (2018 fourth) for a 5-2 win that wasn’t really as close as the score shows. Both of the Swedish prospects played solid roles in helping Sweden earn their second win of the round-robin stage and 50th straight win in the stages.
In the second period with Sweden already up 2-0 and on the power play, (1:47 of the video clip) Nil Lundqvist let go with a blast from the point that teammate Nil Hoglander deflected in to give Sweden a 3-0 lead. This goal at 1:28 would prove to be the game-winning goal.
Still in the second Karl Henriksson made it a 4-0 lead for the Swedes when he converted a perfect setup from teammate Lucas Raymond. His goal starts at the 2:02 mark of the video clip. For Henriksson, the goal made up for a missed opportunity on a breakaway earlier in the period.
The Swedes took their foot off the gas in the third period up 5-1 and (3:50 on the clip) Nico Gross took advantage to score a goal for the Swiss. It was a nice move from Gross who took a pass and made a couple of moves before shooting from the top of the slot for his goal.
For the game, Lundqvist had the assist on three shots for a +1 as he played an even 20:00 on 30 shifts averaging 40 seconds a shift. Lundqvist was excellent as the Swedes used him to quarterback the power play and start the offense from the point. I really love his shot as he kept it low and on goal. And as much as I liked his offense, I was also impressed at how fast he got back on defense, never getting caught out of position and maybe of the three first-round picks in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, it is Lundqvist who looks more ready for the NHL than either Vitali Kravtsov or K’Andre Miller.
Karl Henriksson was a pest as in addition to his goal, he was disruptive on defense always covering his checks. It was surprising that he was only credited with one shot and only playing 11:08 in 22 shifts averaging 30 seconds a shift. For Henriksson, this was a bounce-back game after a weak game against Finland.
Henriksson is a couple of years away from even serious consideration about his coming over to North America. He needs to hit the gym to add muscle for strength and balance. Henriksson in my view would benefit from coming over and playing Canadian junior if he is serious about an NHL career.
Nico Gross was wearing an “A” for the Swiss as he played 15:39 on 27 shifts with his goal on two shots. He was used as a third pair defender in his fourth time as a member of the Swiss Under-20 team.
Hunter Skinner had a primary assist on his London Knight’s first goal but that was pretty much the only highlight as the Knights after taking a 2-0 lead surrendered the next seven goals to the Kitchener Rangers to lose 7-2. Skinner was a -2 on three shots as he upped his season totals to a prospect best 3-20-23.
Matthew Robertson was scoreless on three shots and a +1 with a minor for holding as his Edmonton Oil Kings spanked the Red Deer Rebels 8-3. The Oil Kings trailed 3-2 a minute into the third period before they scored six unanswered goals for the win. Edmonton is unbeaten in their last 10 games (9-0-1) as they have the best record in the WHL at 24-6-5-2.
Tyler Nanne had a primary assist as his Minnesota Golden Gophers knocked off Bemidji State 5-2 in the opener of the Mariucci Classic. Nanne was 0-1-1 +4 on three shots and one blocked shot as Minnesota advances to face St Cloud State on Sunday