sweden ice hockey

By Martin Merk – IIHF.com

At the Four Nations Tournament in Gothenburg the host nation won against all three opponents including two times in overtime.

In their first game it was the Czechs who opened the scoring with a goal from Dominik Lakatos after just 22 seconds of play. But Jesper Bratt tied it seven minutes later and at 5:39 of the middle frame Carl Grundstrom gave Sweden the lead.

Sweden outshot the Czechs 34-23 but didn’t have an easy time in front of netminder Jakub Skarek. At 11:31 Adam Kubik scored the 2-2 goal for the Czechs and the game remained tied for the rest of the second and third period. The Swedes started the extra period with a man advantage and while playing 4-on-3 Grundstrom scored his second goal of the night for the game-winner.

Against Finland it was the Swedes who started scoring. Elias Pettersson had two unanswered markers, one 54 seconds before the first intermission and the other 31 seconds into the second frame. At 11:10 Grundstrom even made it 3-0 against the defending World Junior champions.

The Finns didn’t give up though and reacted with three unanswered goals from Emil Oksanen, Otto Koivula and Urho Vaakanainen. Sweden earned the extra point thanks to Lias Andersson’s marker at 4:17 of the overtime period.

On the last day only Russia had the chance to prevent a Swedish party on home ice. The Russians had a shootout loss to Finland but beat the Czechs 3-2. With a win in regulation time against the Swedes they would be able to win the tournament.

However, the last game of the tournament turned out to be the only game that didn’t end with a one-goal gap. The two teams exchanged goals from Andersson and Igor Shvyryov in the seventh minute of play but Pettersson’s goal gave Sweden a 2-1 first-period lead.

Russia came out stronger in the second period but midway the period two goals within 26 seconds from Grundstrom and Linus Hogberg gave Sweden a 4-1 lead and forced the Russian coach to replace goalie Ilya Samsonov with Konstantin Volkov.

Russia came back with a pair of goals from Alexander Polunin but Grundstrom’s fifth marker of the tournament restored the two-goal cushion and Jonathan Davidsson made it 6-3 with 2:17 left in the game.

Grundstrom, who plays in the top senior league with local team Frolunda Gothenburg, finished the tournament as leader in scoring (7) and goal scoring (5). Pettersson and Andersson reached the seven-point mark as well.

Thanks to a 3-2 win over Finland in the last game the Czechs finished the tournament in third place while the Finns were fourth.

Belarus, Germany upset elite nations

Nine months after hosting the Youth Olympic Games, Lillehammer welcomed four U20 teams for an international tournament including Slovakia and Switzerland, who will play at the top-level World Juniors in Canada. The winner, however, came from Germany.

The Germans already won the tournament after two victories in their first two games. First they beat eventual runner-up Switzerland 3-0 with goals from Lucas Dumont, Valentin Kopp and Jakob Mayenschein, then they blanked Slovakia event 5-0 with goals from four different scorers including two from Charlie Jahnke. The last game didn’t change the standings despite Germany losing it 3-1 to host Norway, which finished in last place.

The Swiss took second place ahead of Slovakia thanks to wins in the other two games, 5-2 against Slovakia and 4-2 against Norway.

In Graz another tournament with two top-division nations, Denmark and Latvia, ended with an upset as well with Belarus claiming first place.

Denmark hoped to be en route to win the event after beating host Austria 4-0 and Latvia 2-1 but Belarus had a strong start as well with 4-1 victories against the same opponents.

The Danes were not able to capitalize on their chances going head-to-head with Belarus. Alexander Osipkov had a 25-save shutout while his teammates scored five goals. Denis Zaichik’s marker at 4:22 of play became the game-winner and in the second period the Belarusians scored three goals within two-and-a-half minutes from Yevgeni Astankov, Yegor Sharangovich and Yevgeni Farafontov.

Latvia, the team promoted to the World Juniors, started with two losses and was only able to win its last game, 2-1 in shootout against Austria to claim third place.