Team Sweden did not make it to the start of the world junior championship without losing another big name on the blueline. At least it can replace the key player it lost, unlike Group A rival Finland.
With Hampus Lindholm being ruled out due to a concussion, defending champion Sweden has now lost three NHL first-round picks from among its top two defence pairings before it even plays a game at the IIHF U20 world championship in Ufa, Russia. Lindholm was injured during pre-competition and Sweden never listed him on its roster, meaning 17-year-old defenceman Robert Hägg can be added for the balance of the event.
Hampus Lindholm lämnar nu JVM-truppen och åker hem. "Tyvärr har han fått en till hjärnskakning", säger Rönnberg. #jvm13se
— Henrik Sjöberg (@sjobergh) December 26, 2012
That is painful for the Swedish team but might be nothing compared to the agony Finland forward Miro Aaltonen was in on Wednesday. The 19-year-old broke his right ankle — the replay was just gruesome — after being checked by Latvia's Pauls Zvirbulis and apparently catching a rut on the ice.
That is a significant loss for Finland, who came in harbouring legit gold-medal hopes. Aaltonen, a 19-year-old who plays for the Espoo Blues and scored the game-winner in Finland's pre-competition win over Canada, was expected to be a solid two-way player who could buttress an attack led by top prospects Joel Armia, Teuvo Teräväinen and Aleksander Barkov.
Make no mistake, the injury was Lawrence Taylor-on-Joe Theismann ugly.
In our second intermission, we'll have video of Aaltonen's injury. Got hit and fell and as he fell, ankle twisted under him. #ugly
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 26, 2012
I just woke up my entire house screaming at the Miro Aaltonen replay. #holyanklerollbatman
— Julie Stewart-Binks (@JSB_CTV) December 26, 2012
— Grant Sonier (@GPSHOCKEY) December 26, 2012
Since he played, Aaltonen cannot be replaced, meaning Finland is down to 19 skaters for the duration. It just goes to show how a potential gold medal often rests on luck, and staying healthy. With regard to Lindholm's injury, it's the second world junior in a row that a Ducks prospect has bowed out before the tournament even really began. Canada lost Devante Smith-Pelly to a broken foot in its 2012 WJC opener.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.