Fierce hockey rivals go head to head

Ice hockey World Championships co-hosts Sweden and Finland continue their long-standing rivalry on Saturday with a place in the gold medal match at stake.

Fierce hockey rivals go head to head

Sweden, who booked their last-four birth by edging 2010 Olympic champions Canada 3-2 in a penalty shootout, are attempting to become the first team to win the gold medal on home ice since the former Soviet Union in 1986.

But to do that, they need to avenge a 6-1 defeat against their Scandinavian neighbours when they fought for the gold at Bratislava in 2011 which gave the Finns only their second world title.

“I’m really happy,” Sweden coach Par Marts said after winning the quarter-final.

“They (Canada) are a tough team to beat. But everything worked well today.”

“We knew we had to play our best game of the tournament. I’m happy for Swedish hockey because you have to play for the medals in your home tournament.”

Meanwhile, the Finns are set to shrug off the bitter memories of their previous world championship campaign when they failed to earn a medal on home ice in 2012.

Fonder memories for Finland date back to 1995 when they clinched their first ever world crown beating the host Swedes at the Globe Arena in Stockholm.

“As the tournament goes on, you grow as a team, and that’s what’s happened with us,” said Finland defenceman Ossi Vaananen.

“We’re a fairly old team, but a lot of players are in their first tournament. It’s a good mix of guys and we are counting on success here.”

Meanwhile the USA will hope to halt Switzerland’s eight-match winning streak in the second semi-final.

The US team, who won their last world championship medal nine years ago, reached the last four for just the fourth time in 15 years with an impressive 8-3 win over defending champions Russia.

Last year, the USA lost at the quarter-final stage against Finland, but this time the Americans are confident they can go all the way to the title.

“We expected to win this game (against Russia). It’s another feather in our cap. But we want to roll forward,” New Jersey Devils forward Ryan Carter said.

“We’re a confident team. We think we can win a medal, and we want to win the gold medal here.”

However, Switzerland, who earned their last world championship medal as far back as 1953 have been the team of the tournament so far winning all eight of their matches. They will provide a stern test.

The Swiss rose from their disappointing 11th position at the last year’s championships to the last-four of the event for the first time since 1998 under their Canadian coach Sean Simpson.

“It is a real team,” Simpson said of his side. “Whatever happens on the ice, they react to it.”

“Our team stood together under big pressure in the quarter-finals against the Czechs. With that win, the team did something very special for its country.”

The bronze medal game and the final will be played in Stockholm on Sunday.

AFP/The Local/nr

Follow The Local on Twitter

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Sweden’s Rasmus Dahlin first overall pick in NHL draft

Rasmus Dahlin became just the second Swedish-born player to be selected first overall in the NHL draft on Friday when the Buffalo Sabres used the top pick on the rangy teenage defenceman.

Sweden's Rasmus Dahlin first overall pick in NHL draft
Rasmus Dahlin is bound for Buffalo. Photo: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images/AFP
Dahlin, who plays for Frolunda HC in the Swedish league and was widely expected to be the first pick, follows Mats Sundin, who was the top choice of the Quebec Nordiques in 1989.
“I just want everything to start,” Dahlin said. “I'm going to bring everything I have to that city. I'm super excited. I can't wait.”
Russian forward Andrei Svechnikov went second to the Carolina Hurricanes and the Montreal Canadiens used the third pick to get Finnish centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
The draft had a decided Europe flavour as four of the top six players were Europeans. The first American was Brady Tkachuk who went to the Ottawa Senators at No. 4 and the Phoenix Coyotes took the first Canadian Barrett Hayton with the fifth pick. 
The 18-year-old Dahlin said he was happy to call Buffalo home despite the fact they haven't had a winning season in the past seven seasons and have missed the playoffs eight years in a row.
“It's amazing to finally put on the Buffalo Sabres' jersey,” Dahlin said. “I've been there twice. I love that city.”
The six-foot-three, 185-pound Dahlin was honoured as the best defenceman at the 2018 world junior championship in Buffalo, registering six assists in seven games. He also played twice for Sweden as a 17-year-old at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
At number six, the Detroit Red Wings chose the brash Halifax Mooseheads winger Filip Zadina who vowed to make teams that passed on him pay down the road.
“I'm telling my agent if they will pass on me, I will fill their net with the puck,” the Czech Zadina said. “Yeah, it's just I want to prove to them that they have done a bad decision.”
The lone trade of the day came before the draft when the Colorado Avalanche acquired backup goalie Philipp Grubauer and defenceman Brooks Orpik from the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals for the 47th pick. The Capitals were willing to get rid of Orpik and Grubauer so they could create salary cap space to sign free agents.