Kelowna hosts World Junior pre-tournament game

Swedish fans cheer during Junior World Championship exhibition hockey action between team Sweden and team Russia at Prospera Place in Kelowna, B.C. on Dec. 18, 2018. Sweden beat Russia 4-2. (Marissa Tiel/ Kelowna Capital News)
Nils Lundkvist (9) skates the puck up the ice during Junior World Championship exhibition hockey action between team Sweden and team Russia at Prospera Place in Kelowna, B.C. on Dec. 18, 2018. Sweden beat Russia 4-2.(Marissa Tiel/ Kelowna Capital News)
Swedish goaltender Sameul Ersson keeps an eye on the puck as Philip Broberg (25) and Rasmus Sandin (8) defend during Junior World Championship exhibition hockey action between team Sweden and team Russia at Prospera Place in Kelowna, B.C. on Dec. 18, 2018. Sweden beat Russia 4-2.(Marissa Tiel/ Kelowna Capital News)
A shot by Russian captain Vitalii Kravtsov goes wide during Junior World Championship exhibition hockey action between team Sweden and team Russia at Prospera Place in Kelowna, B.C. on Dec. 18, 2018. Sweden beat Russia 4-2.(Marissa Tiel/ Kelowna Capital News)
From left, Grigory Denisenko, Vitalii Kravtsov and Nikolay Kovalenko celebrate a goal during Junior World Championship exhibition hockey action between team Sweden and team Russia at Prospera Place in Kelowna, B.C. on Dec. 18, 2018. Sweden beat Russia 4-2.(Marissa Tiel/ Kelowna Capital News)
Team Sweden enters the arena for the third period during Junior World Championship exhibition hockey action between team Sweden and team Russia at Prospera Place in Kelowna, B.C. on Dec. 18, 2018. Sweden beat Russia 4-2.(Marissa Tiel/ Kelowna Capital News)
Russia’s Artem Nikolaev, Sweden’s David Gustafsson get caught up with Russia goaltender Petr Kochetkov during Junior World Championship exhibition hockey action between team Sweden and team Russia at Prospera Place in Kelowna, B.C. on Dec. 18, 2018. Sweden beat Russia 4-2.(Marissa Tiel/ Kelowna Capital News)

Some very different skaters were on Prospera Place ice on Tuesday night. Team Sweden and Team Russia were at the centre of attention when the IIHF pre-tournament game’s puck dropped in a preview of World Junior hockey action that will soon start on Dec. 26 in Vancouver. Both teams featured some of the top prospects hailing from their respective countries, but it was Sweden who wound up with a 4-2 victory over Russia.

“It was a good game for us,” said Sweden head coach Tomas Montén after the win. “You can practice as much as you like, but it’s in game situations where you get to try yourself. For us, it was a really good first game and something to build on.”

The two teams’ rosters are still yet to be 100 per cent decided for the coveted 2019 World Juniors as players on both teams were looking for the final roster spots before next week. Both team featured immense talent with players that have been drafted into the NHL already, soon-to-be drafted players, and undrafted players looking to represent their country.

With plenty of fans at Prospera Place sporting both teams’ colours, the two countries’ skaters were looking to impress in front of the boisterous crowd.

Sweden came out fast, using their fast skaters and quick puck movement to keep Russia on the heels of their skates, but it would be Russia who would score first. Montreal Canadians prospect Alexander Romanov would control the puck at the point, make a sweet move around a Swedish defender, and as a teammate yells “bury it,” he puts one past Swedish goalie and Philadelphia Flyers prospect Ersson Samuel.

Teams would trade possession back and forth throughout the rest of the first two periods, but stand out Swedish defenceman Erik Brannstrom, a Vegas Golden Nights prospect, would take control and get Sweden back on the board with a goal, and then a crucial assist on Sweden’s second goal as the second period ended.

Sweden would start the third period with consistent pace, and much to the delight of the Swedish fans cheering aloud, Sweden would take a 4-2 lead quickly into the third period beating Russia goalie, Petr Kochetkov, twice within three minutes.

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In a friendly match where the result didn’t much matter beyond bragging rights, Russia kept up the pace and the pressure with Sweden who was playing with a two goal lead. That would be all for regulation, but the friendly match didn’t end at 4-2 for Team Sweden. A friendly period of 3 vs 3 overtime was agreed by each team, to further showcase a great fan experience. Team Sweden would take advantage with another Montreal Canadians prospect, Jacob Olofsson, getting the goal in overtime.

Sweden will have one more preliminary game before the tournament kick off on Dec. 26, while Russia will place twice with a match up against Team USA on Dec. 20 in Kamloops.

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