DUBUQUE, Iowa — Fighting Saints goalie Erik Portillo has been named to Sweden’s World Junior Championship Roster for the annual tournament held this year from December 26th- January 5th. Portillo was selected to compete with the Swedish team that will look to win its first U20 World Championship since 2012. Portillo is the first Fighting Saint since fellow Swede William Lagesson to participate in the World Junior’s.
“We are proud of Erik as he gets a chance to represent Sweden on the world stage,” said Saints General Manager Kalle Larsson. “Him making the team speaks volumes to the work he put into his craft together with his teammates and coaches. It also continues to show what a great league the USHL is and how strong the college path is for players from all over the world.”
Portillo has been nothing short of phenomenal this season for the Saints, ranking top 10 in virtually every major goaltending category in the USHL. In the bigger categories, Portillo doesn’t find himself outside the top five. He currently has a 10-2-1 record, 2.13 goals against and .910 save percentage. Portillo is on pace to put together one of the most successful goaltending seasons in Fighting Saints history.
“We are very happy for Erik,” said head coach Oliver David. “He has done a great job with us these first few months. In doing so he has solidified a spot with his national team and there isn’t much cooler than that.”
The Swedish phenom has had a huge year for many reasons outside of just his performance in Dubuque. Already committed to Michigan, Portillo was drafted fifth overall by Dubuque in the 2019 Phase II USHL Draft. Shortly after he was drafted in the third round of the NHL Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. Now, with the World Juniors selection, Portillo has yet another major achievement to hang his hat on.
“I am extremely excited and honored to be able to represent my country in the World Juniors,” said Portillo. “I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this without the help and support of the Fighting Saints organization.”
The World Juniors will kick off on December 26th as Sweden takes on Finland. Sweden will also play Switzerland, Kazakhstan and Slovakia in the preliminary rounds. Which run from the 26th-31st. The Medal Rounds begin January second and Portillo and Sweden hope that their tournament ends on January 5th with a gold medal in the Championship game. The Czech Republic are the host country of this year’s World Juniors for the fourth time in the tournament’s history.