Photo credit: freelogovectors.net
Team Sweden defeats Team Russia in their first game of the tournament thanks in part to Alexander Holtz.
Team Sweden opened their World Junior Championship tournament with a convincing 6-3 win over Team Russia on Sunday, and it was the highly touted winger Alexander Holtz that notched the game-winning goal. Sweden and Russia are both in group “B” for the tournament.
Holtz, who was drafted by the New Jersey Devils number seven overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, and currently plays for the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League, also recorded an assist to go along with his game-winning goal. His goal came while the Swedes were on a five-on-three power play when he launched a one-timer into the Russian net off of a feed from William Eklund – who was drafted number seven overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks. Team Sweden captain Emil Andrae, himself a second-round draft pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers, drew the secondary assist on Holtz’s goal.
Holtz finished the game with one goal and one assist to go with three shots on goal in 19:46 of time on ice.
The New Jersey Devils also had another one of their prospects playing in this game. Defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin, whom they drafted with the twentieth overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, was held pointless in the contest. He did register three shots on goal in 18:17 of time on ice.
Two other New Jersey Devils (and potential future Utica Comets) prospects are playing in this tournament. Defenseman Luke Hughes, who is representing Team USA, and goaltender Jakub Malek of Czechia. Hughes, who was drafted number four overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and is playing for the University of Michigan this season, did not have a point or a shot on goal in 16:36 of ice time in the USA’s 3-2 victory over Slovakia on Sunday night.
Malek had a rough opening game for Team Czechia on Sunday. He started in goal against Team Canada and gave up six goals on thirty-six shots. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Devils in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Holtz, Makhamadullin, and Malek are all back in action on Monday, December 27th as Sweden faces Slovakia, Russia takes on Switzerland, and Czechia goes up against Germany. Hughes plays on Tuesday, December 28th when Team USA takes on Switzerland. For details on the 2022 World Junior Championship, visit https://iihf.com.