Wallstedt, 20, played AHL hockey with Iowa Wild last season after progressing through the ranks at Lulea in the SHL. This is his first senior international tournament, having helped Sweden to World Junior bronze last season.
Modestly, he paid tribute to his team-mates after a successful debut. “I think the whole team played very solid,” Wallstedt said. “I felt like we were controlling most of the game, we were keeping the puck in their zone as much as possible and creating a lot of offence there. That made it easier for us to defend when they got into our zone. I feel like we kept them on the outside and didn’t really give them a lot of chances to score.”
It was left to captain Jakob Silfverberg to talk up the youngster’s performance. “It was kind of a slow start for him, he had the first short after about 10 minutes but they had some really key chances there late in the first,” he said. “He came up big for us and kept us ahead. That’s a big confidence boost for the rest of the team that we have two goalie that can make those saves every night for you.”
Against Germany, Sweden needed patience to find a way through. Today, against the Austrians, the breakthrough came early. With just 3:43 played, Jonathan Berggren’s shot kept low and, with Andre Petersson and Bernd Wolf tangling in front of the Austrian net, Par Lindholm’s redirect sent the puck skittering beyond Bernhard Starkbaum.
“I think that first game everyone was a bit nervous but we got the win and now we can relax and play our hockey,” said Alexander Nylander. “We’re getting better and better, we’re playing good hockey.
“When we play our best we’re moving the puck fast, we’re getting on the pucks in the O zone and creating chances off that. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do next.”
However, the early goal did not inspire a Swedish surge, nor precipitate an Austrian collapse. During last year’s successful campaign against relegation, Austria generally hung around against even the toughest opponents and Roger Bader’s team is continuing in the same fashion this year.
Today, there were a couple of chance to tie it up: Benjamin Nissner steered a Peter Schneider shot into Wallstedt’s pads on the first power play of the game. Later, as the intermission approached, Marco Rossi got free at the back door and the Swedish goalie struggled to control the rebound as the Austrian offence closed in.
Sweden clearly needed more to kill off the game, and a second goal arrived in the 27th minute. Jacob de la Rose went down the right, got to the trapezoid and dished off the puck to the lurking Marcus Sorensen in front of the net. The former San Jose Shark lifted his shot over Starkbaum’s shoulder to double the lead.
Then, late in the middle frame, a third Swedish goal put the result out of reach. Defender Patrik Nemeth wired a wrister from the top of the right-hand circle with Lindholm screening the Austrian goalie.
Immediately afterwards, Austria’s promising young defender David Reinbacher showed why he’s a prospective 2023 draft pick when he surged deep into the Swedish zone. However, the 18-year-old’s charge was halted in spectacular style when he was crunched between two defenders.
It was a tough night for Austria, who showed plenty of endeavour but struggled to really hurt Sweden’s defence. “I feel like we’ve got to take all the positives out of that game,” said captain Thomas Raffl. “I thought we we played a good game. Sweden scored its first three goals on our mistakes, and then you’re heading into third period, down 3-0 against a team like Sweden. I thought we tried everything to get back in the game, and we gotta give credit to them. They played a good game all the way.”
In the third period another hot prospect, Sweden’s highly regarded forward Leo Carlsson, caught the eye with his first World Championship goal. Playing on a high-powered top line with Lucas Raymond and Alexander Nylander, the Orebro starlet found space in the left-hand channel and converted a Raymond feed to open his international account.
There was still time for Dennis Everberg to make it 5-0 as Sweden extended a World Championship winning streak over the Austrians that dates back to 1947.