Five crowns for Sweden

Yellow-and-blue teams succeed in international break

Ondrej Nepela Arena Bratislava  Slovakia

Viktor Fasth was one of Sweden’s key players at the Euro Hockey Tour event in Stockholm with a 96.15% save percentage. Photo: Jukka Rautio / HHOF-IIHF Images

ZURICH – Sweden was the big winner of the February international break, as five of its six national selections ended up as winners in the top events of each category.

Sweden had the best teams in the respective men’s, U19, U18, U17 and women’s events. Only the U16 team suffered a defeat for the tournament win when it lost the deciding game of its home event in Gärdehov 4-3 to Russia.

Men’s category

The most important triumph for the country came in Stockholm where Sweden will co-host the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship next spring together with Helsinki, Finland.

The start wasn’t promising, though. Sweden lost to the Czech Republic 2-1 in a shootout. Jan Kolar tied up the score with nine minutes left in regulation time and Petr Nedved scored the only goal after four pairs of penalty shots.

However, the destiny of these two teams went in different directions after the opening game. The Czech Republic was blanked by Finland, 7-0, and even a 4-0 win against Russia on the last day wasn’t enough to end up on top of the standings.

Sweden, on the other hand, bounced back after the loss. They defeated Russia 4-1 thanks to goals from Mattias Ekholm, Nicklas Danielsson, Jakob Silfverberg and Tony Mårtensson, and a stellar performance of goalkeeper Viktor Fasth.

All Sweden needed then was a victory against archrivals Finland. After a scoreless first period, Staffan Kronwall broke the deadlock with his power-play goal with 4:01 left in the second period. Jonas Andersson made it 2-0 early in the last period, but Janne Pesonen cut the lead with a shorthanded goal. Joel Lundqvist sealed Sweden’s win in the dying minutes when he defeated Finnish netminder Joni Ortio for the 3-1 goal.

Sweden’s triumph before 9,263 fans at the Globen Arena was already the second tournament win in this year’s Euro Hockey Tour. The Swedes already won the event in Moscow in December while Russia succeeded in Helsinki during the November break. Sweden now leads the EHT standings with 16 points in 12 games, one more than Russia.

A surprising revelation was 40-year-old former NHL player Petr Nedved. The Czech-born forward represented Canada in the 1994 Olympics, but don’t be surprised if you see him play in the Czech jersey at the next World Championship. Nedved is currently in his fourth season with his hometown club Bili Tygri Liberec. Being in his fifth straight season in the Czech Extraliga after ending his NHL career in 2007, Nedved could switch to Czech in IIHF play. He scored two goals for the Czechs and also had three in the November break.

Slovakia did well at the four nations tournament in Minsk, Belarus. In the semi-finals the Slovaks edged Switzerland 3-1. The Swiss were leading thanks to a second-period marker from Damien Brunner in the second period, but the Slovaks turned the game with two goals within a 29-second span by Juraj Mikus and Rastislav Spirko in the dying minutes of the game. Mikus had another goal with an empty netter 15 seconds before the final buzzer.

Host Belarus made it to the final with a 4-0 victory over Germany thanks to two goals from Andrei Stepanov and one each from Anatoli Protasenya and Alexei Kalyuzhny.

It was a clash before 10,320 fans for the tournament win between host Belarus and Slovakia, and their national teams’ new coaches, Vladimir Vujtek and Kari Heikkilä, respectively.

The Slovaks had a strong first period, jumping out to a 3-1 lead. Vladimir Dravecky scored the first goal after 23 seconds of play and around the seven-minute mark Michel Miklik and Adam Lapsanski scored two goals within 22 seconds of each other. Kristian Kudroc and Marcel Hascak scored the other two goals in the 5-1 victory while Alexander Kitarov netted Belarus’ consolation goal.

Norway won another men’s tournament on home ice in Lørenskog. The Norwegians edged France 2-1 in a shootout and Latvia 2-1 in regulation time. The deciding game against second-placed Denmark wasn’t as close. Norway won 7-3 as Mathis Olimb had two goals while former NHLer Patrick Thoresen notched four points (1+3).

Italy won a four nations tournament in Kyiv. Both the Azzurri and host Ukraine defeated Lithuania and Romania before facing each other for a virtual final. The game, played before 6,137 fans, went back and forth. Italy took the lead four times with goals from Anton Bernard, Vincent Rocco, Federico Benetti and Giulio Scandella, but each time the Ukrainians were able to score an answering goal. Kostyantin Kasyanchuk netted two goals while Olexander Toryanik and Yevgen Pastukh tied it up on the other two occasions.

After a scoreless overtime, a shootout had to decide the tournament winner and it was Italy who came out on top 2-1 with goals from Scandella and Robert Sirianni.

U19 category

One month after Sweden had won its first U20 gold in 31 years at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship, five European teams assembled in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, to prepare for next year’s World Juniors in Ufa, Russia.

Swedish coach Roger Rönnberg could draw positive conclusions as his team won all of their games. The toughest challenge came in the deciding game for the tournament win against Finland. Despite a 50-19 shot advantage the score was tied 2-2 after 40 minutes, and Finland even had a 4-2 lead in the third period before Sweden put on pressure to tie it up with 7:35 left in regulation time. Viktor Arvidsson scored his second goal of the game at 3:14 of the extra period to clinch the tournament win.

Sweden had some depth on its team with five players scoring at least five points at the tourney. Viktor Arvidsson stood out with four goals and seven points while Mikael Vikstrand was the only defenceman with five points along with Finn Roni Viirlas.

U18 category

Seventeen nations were on the ice in the last break leading up to the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship in the Czech Republic with Sweden winning the prime event of the February break in Finland.

The Swedes won all of their games at the five nations tournament, including a 4-2 victory against the Unites States’ U18 team of the National Team Development Program, a team that has won the gold in the last three U18 Worlds.

The Americans outshot the Swedes 33-28, but Filip Forsberg and Christian Djoos found the net with two power-play goals in the first period, and Ludwig Byström scored the game-winning goal in the 4-2 win at 2:18 of the third. The Americans ended up in third place after also losing to Finland, 4-0.

The virtual final took place on the last day between the hosting Finns and Sweden. Teuvo Teräväinen made the home crowd cheer when he opened the scoring at 12:24, but Filip Sandberg tied it up five minutes later and Ludvig Nilsson and Sebastian Collberg added two more Swedish goals in the middle stanza. Juuso Ikonen cut into the lead, but the score remained 3-2 for Sweden.

USA Hockey was more successful at another U18 event as it sent its U17 national team to the Vlado Dzurilla Tournament in Slovakia. The Americans were mostly unchallenged as they defeated Switzerland (6-1), Germany (8-0) and Slovakia (8-3). The Slovaks notched second place after defeating Switzerland 3-1. 1995-born Evan Allen was the player with the most offensive production scoring four goals and ten points.

In a tournament in Esbjerg, Denmark, consisting of nations at the edge between the Top Division and Division I, Latvia succeeded with a 3-0 record against Norway, Belarus and Denmark. It was the international coaching debut for Leonids Tambijevs, who leads Latvia’s all-time national team records in games, points and goals. Latvia and Denmark, who finished second, will both play in the top tier in the Czech Republic in April.

After the astonishing success of their women’s U18 national team this winter, the Hungarians also saw positive signs with their male U18 selection. Hungary won a four nations tournament it hosted in Budapest after defeating Slovenia, Italy and France – three nations that play one tier above Hungary, which will host the Division I Group B tournament in Szekesfehervar in April.

Women’s category

Sweden’s Damkronor won its home tournament in Oskarshamn with a clean record after defeating Russia (3-1), Germany (6-0) and blanking Finland 5-0 in the deciding game. Veteran forwards Elin Holmlöv and Erika Holst scored three goals each in the tournament for seven and five points respectively while Kim Martin and Sara Grahn allowed only one goal while combining for 65 saves.

Russia’s Anna Prugova had a 93.86% save percentage, but couldn’t prevent 3-1 defeats against both Sweden and Finland. Finland ended up second while Russia had to settle for third place before winless Germany.

In a clash between two teams that might have to fight against relegation-round play at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Burlington, Vermont (USA) in the spring, Slovakia edged Switzerland 2-1 in the deciding game of a four nations tournament in Romanshorn, Switzerland.

The Swiss outshot Slovakia 57-39, but couldn’t capitalize on their chances. Kathrin Lehmann tied a goal from Jana Kapustova at 1:22 of the third period, but the home team didn’t find an answer to Nicol Cupkova’s game-winning goal six minutes later.


<table><tbody><tr><td colspan="6">MEN'S TOURNAMENTS</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Euro Hockey Tour in Sweden</td></tr><tr class="even"><td width="44">9 Feb.</td><td>Helsinki (FIN)</td><td>Finland</td><td>- </td><td>Russia</td><td width="40">0-2</td></tr><tr><td>9 Feb.</td><td>Stockholm</td><td>Czech Rep.</td><td>- </td><td>Sweden</td><td>2-1 PS</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Stockholm</td><td>Finland</td><td>- </td><td>Czech Rep.</td><td>7-0</td></tr><tr><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Stockholm</td><td>Sweden</td><td>- </td><td>Russia</td><td>4-1</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>12 Feb.</td><td>Stockholm</td><td>Russia</td><td>- </td><td>Czech Rep.</td><td>0-4</td></tr><tr><td>12 Feb.</td><td>Stockholm</td><td>Sweden</td><td>- </td><td>Finland</td><td>3-1</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Standings: 1. Sweden 7, 2. Czech Rep. 5, 3. Russia 3, 4. Finland 3.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Standings EHT: 1. Sweden 16, 2. Russia 15, 3. Czech Rep. 13, 4. Finland 10.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Tournament in Belarus</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Minsk</td><td>Switzerland</td><td>- </td><td>Slovakia</td><td>1-3</td></tr><tr><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Minsk</td><td>Belarus</td><td>- </td><td>Germany</td><td>4-0</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Minsk</td><td>Switzerland</td><td>- </td><td>Germany</td><td>1-0</td></tr><tr><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Minsk</td><td>Belarus</td><td>- </td><td>Slovakia</td><td>1-5</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Standings: 1. Slovakia, 2. Belarus, 3. Switzerland, 4. Germany.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Norway</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>9 Feb.</td><td>Lørenskog</td><td>Denmark</td><td>- </td><td>Latvia</td><td>3-2 PS</td></tr><tr><td>9 Feb.</td><td>Lørenskog</td><td>Norway</td><td>- </td><td>France</td><td>2-1 PS</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Lørenskog</td><td>France</td><td>- </td><td>Denmark</td><td>1-3</td></tr><tr><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Lørenskog</td><td>Latvia</td><td>- </td><td>Norway</td><td>1-2</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Lørenskog</td><td>Latvia</td><td>- </td><td>France</td><td>2-1</td></tr><tr><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Lørenskog</td><td>Norway</td><td>- </td><td>Denmark</td><td>7-3</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Standings: 1. Norway 8, 2. Denmark 5, 3. Latvia 4, France 1.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Ukraine</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>9 Feb.</td><td>Kyiv</td><td>Lithuania</td><td>- </td><td>Italy</td><td>0-4</td></tr><tr><td>9 Feb.</td><td>Kyiv</td><td>Ukraine</td><td>- </td><td>Romania</td><td>7-0</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Kyiv</td><td>Italy</td><td>- </td><td>Romania</td><td>4-3</td></tr><tr><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Kyiv</td><td>Ukraine</td><td>- </td><td>Lithuania</td><td>5-1</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Kyiv</td><td>Romania</td><td>- </td><td>Lithuania</td><td>4-3 OT</td></tr><tr><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Kyiv</td><td>Italy</td><td>- </td><td>Ukraine</td><td>5-4 PS</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Standings: 1. Italy 8, 2. Ukraine 7, 3. Romania 2, 4. Lithuania 1.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">U19 TOURNAMENTS</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Tournament in Switzerland</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>8 Feb.</td><td>Kreuzlingen</td><td>Czech Rep.</td><td>- </td><td>Sweden</td><td>2-5</td></tr><tr><td>8 Feb.</td><td>Kreuzlingen</td><td>Finland</td><td>- </td><td>Switzerland</td><td>6-2</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>9 Feb.</td><td>Kreuzlingen</td><td>Germany</td><td>- </td><td>Czech Rep. </td><td>2-4</td></tr><tr><td>9 Feb.</td><td>Kreuzlingen</td><td>Switzerland</td><td>- </td><td>Sweden</td><td>2-4</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Kreuzlingen</td><td>Finland</td><td>- </td><td>Czech Rep. </td><td>3-0</td></tr><tr><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Kreuzlingen</td><td>Sweden</td><td>- </td><td>Germany</td><td>6-1</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Kreuzlingen</td><td>Germany</td><td>- </td><td>Finland</td><td>0-7</td></tr><tr><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Kreuzlingen</td><td>Czech Rep.</td><td>- </td><td>Switzerland</td><td>5-2</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>12 Feb.</td><td>Kreuzlingen</td><td>Sweden</td><td>- </td><td>Finland</td><td>5-4 OT
</td></tr><tr><td>12 Feb.</td><td>Kreuzlingen</td><td>Switzerland</td><td>- </td><td>Germany</td><td>5-2</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Standings: 1. Sweden 11, 2. Finland 10, 3. Czech Rep. 6, 4. Switzerland 3, 5. Germany 0.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">U18 TOURNAMENTS</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Tournament in Finland</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>8 Feb.</td><td>Harjavalta</td><td>Sweden</td><td>- </td><td>Russia</td><td>3-1</td></tr><tr><td>8 Feb.</td><td>Harjavalta</td><td>Czech Rep.</td><td>- </td><td>Finland</td><td>3-8</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>9 Feb.</td><td>Rauma</td><td>Russia</td><td>- </td><td>Finland</td><td>0-1</td></tr><tr><td>9 Feb.</td><td>Rauma</td><td>USA</td><td>- </td><td>Czech Rep.</td><td>5-2</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Panelia</td><td>Russia</td><td>- </td><td>Czech Rep.</td><td>6-3</td></tr><tr><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Panelia</td><td>Sweden</td><td>- </td><td>USA</td><td>4-2</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Pori</td><td>Czech Rep.</td><td>- </td><td>Sweden</td><td>2-4</td></tr><tr><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Pori</td><td>Finland</td><td>- </td><td>USA</td><td>4-0</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>12 Feb.</td><td>Pori</td><td>Finland</td><td>- </td><td>Sweden</td><td>2-3</td></tr><tr><td>12 Feb.</td><td>Pori</td><td>USA</td><td>- </td><td>Russia</td><td>3-0</td></tr><tr><td></td><td></td><td></td><td>- </td><td></td><td></td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Standings: 1. Sweden 12, 2. Finland 9, 3. USA 6, 4. Russia 3, 5. Czech Rep. 0.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Vlado Dzurilla Tournament in Slovakia</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>9 Feb.</td><td>Piestany</td><td>USA U17</td><td>- </td><td>Switzerland</td><td>6-1</td></tr><tr><td>9 Feb.</td><td>Piestany</td><td>Slovakia</td><td>- </td><td>Germany</td><td>5-2</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Piestany</td><td>Germany</td><td>- </td><td>USA U17</td><td>0-8</td></tr><tr><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Piestany</td><td>Slovakia</td><td>- </td><td>Switzerland</td><td>3-1</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Piestany</td><td>Switzerland</td><td>- </td><td>Germany</td><td>3-0</td></tr><tr><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Piestany</td><td>Slovakia</td><td>- </td><td>USA U17</td><td>3-8</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Standings: 1. USA U17 9, 2. Slovakia 6, 3. Switzerland 3, 4. Germany 0.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Tournament in Denmark</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>9 Feb.</td><td>Esbjerg</td><td>Norway</td><td>- </td><td>Latvia</td><td>4-9</td></tr><tr><td>9 Feb.</td><td>Esbjerg</td><td>Denmark</td><td>- </td><td>Belarus</td><td>3-2</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Esbjerg</td><td>Latvia</td><td>- </td><td>Belarus</td><td>2-0</td></tr><tr><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Esbjerg</td><td>Denmark</td><td>- </td><td>Norway</td><td>4-2</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Esbjerg</td><td>Belarus</td><td>- </td><td>Norway</td><td>5-3</td></tr><tr><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Esbjerg</td><td>Latvia</td><td>- </td><td>Denmark</td><td>4-0</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Standings: 1. Latvia 9, 2. Denmark 6, 3. Belarus 3, 4. Norway 0.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Tournament in Hungary</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Budapest</td><td>France</td><td>- </td><td>Italy</td><td>4-3 SO</td></tr><tr><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Budapest</td><td>Hungary</td><td>- </td><td>Slovenia</td><td>4-2</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Budapest</td><td>Slovenia</td><td>- </td><td>France</td><td>3-4 OT</td></tr><tr><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Budapest</td><td>Italy</td><td>- </td><td>Hungary</td><td>4-5 OT</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>12 Feb.</td><td>Budapest</td><td>Italy</td><td>- </td><td>Slovenia</td><td>4-3</td></tr><tr><td>12 Feb.</td><td>Budapest</td><td>Hungary</td><td>- </td><td>France</td><td>4-1</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Standings: 1. Hungary 8, 2. Italy 5, 3. France 4, 4. Slovenia 1.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Other games</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>8 Feb.</td><td>St. Pölten (AUT)</td><td>Austria U18</td><td>- </td><td>Austria U19</td><td>2-3</td></tr><tr><td>8 Feb.</td><td>Ängelholm (SWE)</td><td>Rögle U20 (SWE)</td><td>- </td><td>Norway U18</td><td>2-4</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>10 Feb.</td><td>St. Pölten (AUT)</td><td>Austria U18</td><td>- </td><td>Austria U19</td><td>4-6</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">WOMEN'S TOURNAMENTS</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Tournament in Sweden</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Oskarshamn</td><td>Finland</td><td>- </td><td>Germany</td><td>3-1</td></tr><tr><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Oskarshamn</td><td>Sweden</td><td>- </td><td>Russia</td><td>3-1</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Oskarshamn</td><td>Russia</td><td>- </td><td>Finland</td><td>1-3</td></tr><tr><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Oskarshamn</td><td>Sweden</td><td>- </td><td>Germany</td><td>6-0</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>12 Feb.</td><td>Oskarshamn</td><td>Germany</td><td>- </td><td>Russia</td><td>1-3</td></tr><tr><td>12 Feb.</td><td>Oskarshamn</td><td>Sweden</td><td>- </td><td>Finland</td><td>5-0</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Standings: 1. Sweden 9, 2. Finland 6, 3. Russia 3, 4. Germany 0.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Mountain Cup in Switzerland</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Romanshorn</td><td>Austria</td><td>- </td><td>Norway</td><td>1-4</td></tr><tr><td>10 Feb.</td><td>Romanshorn</td><td>Switzerland</td><td>- </td><td>Slovakia</td><td>1-2</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Romanshorn</td><td>Slovakia</td><td>- </td><td>Austria</td><td>3-2</td></tr><tr><td>11 Feb.</td><td>Romanshorn</td><td>Norway</td><td>- </td><td>Switzerland</td><td>2-5</td></tr><tr class="even"><td>12 Feb.</td><td>Romanshorn</td><td>Slovakia</td><td>- </td><td>Norway</td><td>3-1</td></tr><tr><td>12 Feb.</td><td>Romanshorn</td><td>Switzerland</td><td>- </td><td>Austria</td><td>7-5</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6"> </td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Standings: 1. Slovakia 9, 2. Switzerland 6, 3. Norway 3, 4. Austria 0.</td></tr></tbody></table>
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