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Magnificent seven as Swedes reach hockey final

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18:57 CET+01:00
Sweden continued its mastery over the Czech Republic as seven players scored to secure a 7-3 win over the world champions and book a place in the Olympic Games ice hockey final on Friday.

Sweden scored four second period goals and advances to its first Olympic final in 12 years where they will play either Russia or Finland.

"We got knocked out of the last two Olympics so this feels pretty incredible," forward Peter Forsberg said.

The Swedes spread their scoring around as Daniel Alfredsson, Fredrik Modin, Per Johan Axelsson, Christian Backman, Henrik Sedin, Jörgen Jönsson and Tomas Holmström all found the net.

Sweden had history on their side as they and the Czechs have met nine times in the Olympics, with Sweden winning six.

This is the first time in Olympic history that both the Swedish men's and women's teams have reached the gold medal game in the same Winter Games. The women lost 4-1 to Canada.

"It is great for Swedish hockey," Forsberg said.

"The women were in the final and now we are in the final - it shows that Swedish hockey is coming back after a couple of down years."

Modin and Sedin scored early in the first and second period to set the tone for the Swedes' win.

Sweden captured the gold medal on Forsberg's shootout winner in 1994, and the Swedes have won a medal in four of the last seven Olympics.

Forsberg was so desperate to take part in the Olympics that he is playing with a groin injury which kept him out of a number of games with the Philadelphia Flyers prior to coming to Turin.

The Swedes can now forget about the Belarus debacle at Salt Lake City when they were beaten in the quarter-finals.

The Czechs, who won the gold medal in Nagano in 1998, played without star goalie Dominik Hasek who left Turin with a leg injury suffered in their first game.

Their goaltending problems came back to haunt them Friday as Tomas Vokoun had to come into the game in the second period to replace starter Milan Hnilicka who gave up the five Swedish goals.

Hnilicka had allowed just one goal in five periods since replacing Vokoun in the Canada preliminary round match but he didn't bring his best game on Friday.

Modin opened the scoring for Sweden just 34 seconds into the game by taking a smart cross-ice pass from Forsberg and one-timing a blast past Hnilicka.

Sweden took a 3-1 lead with another quick goal to start a period when the Sedin twins (Daniel and Henrik) combined 1:16 into the second.

Czech star Jaromir Jagr gave the puck up in the neutral zone and Henrik and Daniel broke free on a two-on-one with Daniel finishing it off.

"We got scored on at the beginning of both periods and we made a lot of individual mistakes," Czech coach Alois Hadamczik said.

Alfredsson helped ice the victory with the key goal at 19:00 of the third period to make it 6-3.

Axelsson did most of the work, getting the puck deep in the Czech end then outbattling defenceman Pavel Kubina for the puck before feeding Alfredsson in the slot who fired it home.

AFP

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