Can both Nacka and Täby survive the second round?
Following opening round matchups at the U16 Sweden National Championship tournament, eight teams still remain in the chase for gold. For the second round, teams were split into two groups of four. The top two teams from each group will once again advance to the third and final round on April 6th. The final round consists of a four-team, single-elimination bracket. The two groups for the second round of action are:
Just by looking at the groupings, the journey to make it out of Group E will be the most difficult for teams looking to advance. Each team will play one game against its fellow group clubs.
Täby, Nacka attempt to escape Group E
Täby HC and Nacka HK both open their schedules with matchups against the two lower-ranked teams in the ‘Group of Death.’ Täby will drop the puck against Södertälje SK, while Nacka will lace the skates up versus MoDo Hockey.
In regular-season group play, Täby defeated Södertälje twice, by scores of 6-2 and 5-3. Not to mention last playoff round, they also notched another 4-0 win. Theo Stockselius, Marcus Nordmark and Melvin Novotny continued their offensive dominance, and all signs point to that continuing.
Nacka will be eager for revenge against MoDo, having been dominated by them in the opening round by a score of 7-2. Not phased by Nacka’s position in the WHH rankings, MoDo certainly raised some eyebrows with that victory.
Nacka is bolstered by Rasmus Lindstrom Calland (5G, 2A) and Teodor Friberg (2G, 5A). Just behind them in overall scoring are Elton Hermansson and Vincent Wedin, who have both collected six points for MoDo. If MoDo continues to rely on Edvin Lindqvist in net, it could also mean they are in for bigger things down the road. Winning all three games in the first round, Lindqvist skated to a 2.00 goals-against average and .920 save percentage.
Regardless of how Group E shakes out, the two teams to advance from this foursome will likely be the favorites to win in the third, and final round. While Nacka and Täby may come into the weekend as the early odds-on favorites, both MoDo and Södertälje have shown the ability to compete with top-level teams in the past. This group is going to be tight, and I wouldn’t be surprised if every team picked up a win while also suffering a loss. Determining who moves on and who goes home could come down to the slimmest of margins.
Växjö, Brynäs have best odds of earning Group F spots
Both the Växjö Lakers HC and Brynäs IF closed out the opening round of the National Championship playoffs with 3-0-0 records. Brynäs and HV 71 went head-to-head last round, with Brynäs claiming a 5-3 victory. The loss was HV 71’s only one of the first round. We will get to see that matchup one more time in the second round, as both teams advanced to Group F.
Similarly, Växjö and IF Malmö Redhawks shared a group in the previous round, with five Växjö players scoring at least two points in a 7-4 victory. That rematch will take place over the weekend as well.
With those previous meetings, Group F should give fans some exciting matchups to keep an eye on. Växjö’s top line of Albin Laksonen, Noa Bräutigam and Olle Ågren were spectacular in an offense that put up 17 goals in just three games. Brynäs’ top offensive producers were Leo Sundqvist and Gustav Hillström, each with four points. If one team can play spoiler here it’s HV 71, who bring the top four scorers from Group D into battle. They are led by Theo Sonestedt’s three goals and eight points, with Noel Skarby, Fabian Merkle Rohdin and Karl Annborn rounding out the quartet.
Despite all the offensive weapons, these games just might come down to goaltending. Both HV 71’s Edward Rydh and the Lakers’ Maximilian Olofsson stood out as the top netminders in their first round groups. Rydh brings a 1.99 goals-against average and .946 save percentage into play. Olofsson comes equipped with a 3.00 goals-against average and .908 save percentage, with one shutout.