Sweden - Austria 3 - 0 (1 - 0 , 1 - 0 , 1 - 0) Game Sheet
INNSBRUCK – Sweden’s 2012 medal closet looks a little more golden, as the women’s hockey team defeated Austria 3-0 to claim the first ever 2012 Youth Olympic Winter Games gold medal. Goaltender Sara Besseling shut out the Austrian offence, giving her a clean sheet for the entire tournament, while defenceman Emmy Alasalmi had two goals in the game to secure the gold.
Sweden controlled the tempo through the match, outshooting the Austrians 28-11 and forcing them to commit penalties early and often. Team Austria stayed within a goal of the Swedes until the second period, when Amanda Lindberg fired a point shot towards Austrian goaltender Paula Camilla Marchhart. Marchhart was screened perfectly by a Swedish forward on the play, giving Sweden the 2-0 lead.
Alasalmi led her the score sheet with a pair of goals. On a power play in the first period, Amanda Lindberg won a faceoff in the Austrian zone and sent the puck back to her defenceman waiting at the point. Alasalmi wasted no time getting off her slap shot, beating goaltender Paula Camilla Marchhart to the right, and hitting off the post for the opening goal.
Alasalmi’s second goal came in the third period, this time off a soft wrist shot from inside the blue line to give Sweden the 3-0 lead. Marchhart seemed to have the easy glove save, but the puck glanced off the edge of her glove, went over her head and landed in the net.
“I’m not normally a goalscorer but I guess this was my happy day,” said Alasalmi after the game.
The Youth Olympic gold medal continues what has been a banner year for Swedish youth hockey. Gold in the IIHF Ice Hockey men’s U20 World Championship in Alberta, bronze at the women’s U18 in the Czech Republic, and now another gold in Innsbruck.
“It means so much for hockey in Sweden,” said Besseling, who did not allow a goal in the entire tournament. “We’re taking steps all the time and this one is a big step.”
Austria’s loss was tough, as they had a few great chances to score on only a handful of shots. The girls had an improbable run to the final and went up against a Swedish team that normally plays in a division above them in IIHF championships, and can take pride in winning a silver medal in their home country.
“I think our team came together in this tournament,” said Anna Meixner. “We played some great games and battled the whole game against Sweden. We played nearly our best game and we can be proud of ourselves.”
“Austrian girl’s hockey was on the floor before this tournament,” said Meixner. “It was nice to see the guy’s team come out and say that they were proud of us. I hope this medal can lead to more support for us from the federation.”Click here for a video with post-game comments.