BRATISLAVA – Sweden has missed the semi-final only twice (1996, 2000) since 1992 when the new playoff system was introduced. A comfortable 5-2 win in Bratislava secured that Sweden will be playing for the medals even in 2011. They will face the Czech Republic on Friday.
Sweden - Germany 5-2 (2-1, 2-1, 1-0) Game Sheet Photos
Martin Thörnberg scored two goals, Patrik Berglund collected three points, and Viktor Fasth made 35 saves for Sweden.
"I think we were pretty nervous in the first period, but when we scored a couple of goals in the second period things started to go our way," said Fasth.
"I’m really happy. It was a tough game. We met this team before and we know that they play with much intensity. We couldn’t defend as well as we wanted. We had many giveaways, but offensively we played very well," added Team Sweden head coach Pär Mårts.
Germany just couldn’t get their starts right in the tournament. For the third time in four games, they found themselves in a one-goal hole after just one minute of play. Not only that, they had also helped the opponents to get the lead. Against the Finns, a German defenceman deflected Tuomo Ruutu’s pass into own net after 13 seconds. Against the Czechs, another defenceman accidentally delivered the puck into own net after 51 seconds.
In the quarter-final game against the Swedes, the puck was in the German net, off the pants of a German defenceman after 27 seconds. Martin Thörnberg took a slapshot from the top of the circles, Patrik Berglund drove to the net, and the puck found its way.
Just like in their games against the Czechs and the Finns, the Germans battled their way back into the game. Marcus Kink intercepted a Swedish pass in the German zone, sent it to Frank Mauer, who sent a pass across the entire neutral zone. The puck fell right into Alexander Barta’s skate, and he finished his breakaway with a wrist shot that beat Viktor Fasth high on the glove side at 2:01.
"We started off fast, and they scored on their first chance, but when we got the second goal we were able to sort out our game," said Carl Gunnarsson.
"They throw everything at the net and force the play. We knew they were going to come hard once they got the puck in the offensive zone," he added.
Both teams seemed nervous in the first period that was filled with turnovers and poor passes. With 4:14 remaining, just as Fasth had made a great save at the other end, Sweden got a 2-on-1 attack. Patrik Berglund caught Dennis Endras by surprise as his shot went through Endras’s five-goal. Fasth got an assist on the goal.
The Swedes got a great start for the second period when Robert Nilsson found his cousin Niklas Persson in the slot, driving towards the net. Persson was trying to go to his backhand but lost control of the puck. That fooled Endras, too, and the puck went in through his five-hole at 4:30.
With 11:50 remaining in the period, just a second after Kai Hospelt had stepped back onto the ice from the penalty box, Loui Eriksson grabbed David Rundblad’s rebound and beat Endras with a backhander to give Sweden a three-goal lead. It was Eriksson’s third goal in the tournament, and first since Sweden’s opening game against Norway.
A little glimmer of hope still lived in Germans’ hearts when Michael Wolf beat Fasth with 1:16 remaining in the second, right from the doorstep, off a feed from André Rankel.
Martin Thörnberg scored his second of the night off after he beat Constantin Braun to a rebound, and beat Endras with a wrister from a close range to make it 5-2. Patrik Berglund's assist was his third point of the game.
"Any time you come back and make it 4-2 but then they make it 5-2, it takes the wind out of your sails. It was tough. We played hard and we had a lot of chances. If we put more in, it could have been a different game," said Germany's John Tripp.
"They’re a well prepared and organized team. I’m happy the way my team played. They battled hard and created some good chances, but the Swedes capitalized well on their opportunities. It was a good tournament for us," said German head coach Uwe Krupp.
In the semi-finals, Sweden will meet the Czech Republic at 16:15 on Friday.