Switzerland Upsets Sweden, 5-3
Upstart Switzerland played a solid game this afternoon and soundly disposed of perennial achiever Sweden 5-3 today in front of 6,288 devoted hockey fans in Halifax. The Swedes fell to 8th place this year, their worst performance at the World Juniors since 1997.
The Swiss attack looked very poised against Sweden, and their goals came from a variety of sources. Cyrill Buhler opened the scoring at 10:17 of the first period with a rocket shot to the top corner from the deep slot that eluded Swedish goaltender Mathias Fagerstrom. Switzerland also got a pair of goals from player-of-the-game Patrik Bartschi and single goals from Severin Blindenbacher and Kevin Romy to send Sweden to their worst finish since 1997 when, ironically enough, the Swiss beat Sweden 6-2 for seventh place.
At least at the junior level, Sweden does not appear to be the powerhouse that most people assume them to be. They brought some sensational talent to the tournament but played undisciplined hockey for the tournament’s duration. Today’s game was no exception, as they took 26 minutes in penalties and relinquished two power-play goals. They haven’t won a medal since taking home a bronze in 1996.
The bright spots on the Swedish side this afternoon were Yared Hagos, Andreas Jamtin, and player-of-the-game Alexander Steen, who each capped off a solid individual tournament performances with a goal. Goaltender Mathias Fagerstrom also had his strongest showing of the tournament against the Swiss, despite allowing five goals. His team allowed at least six breakaways to the Swiss as well as a variety of chances at even strength and on the power play. Had it not been for Fagerstrom’s amazing mobility the Swiss score could have easily been in the double digits.
The game kept the Halifax crowd on the edge of their seats for its entirety, with the last major flurry coming at the 19-minute mark of the third period when Swedish sensation Robert Nilsson got his best chance of the contest, firing the puck just over the crossbar. As luck would have it, the puck caromed off the boards right back to his stick and he was promptly robbed by goaltender Daniel Manzato, who was solid between the pipes.
Tempers flared up at the end of the game when both teams left the bench and started to push and shove at center ice, but the referees were able to keep the ruckus to a minimum. Both teams then lined up for the customary handshake after the national anthem.
In a tough pool, Sweden went 1-3 for the preliminary round. Many of the games were closer battles than the scores indicate. The strongest team in the relegation round, Sweden is coming into this game after a scare from Belarus on Friday, squeaking out a 5-4 win after playing much of the game tied.
Sweden’s captain, Alexander Steen, was satisfied with the win, but wants to keep focused.
“After the game (Friday), it was an unbelievable sigh of relief. We want to go home with a win. We want to finish the tournament in a positive way.”
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André Brin Director, Communications | Directeur, communications