STOCKHOLM – HV71 Jönköping, Swedish champions in 2008, and runner-up last season, is back on the throne, having beaten Djurgården Stockholm in the sixth game in the final series, bagging the fourth win in Djurgården’s home arena, Hovet when Teemu Laine scored the game winning goal 4:19 into the OT.
It was the fifth straight game in the final series to be decided in the extra frame, and overall, the 17th to go into overtime in the 38 postseason games.
Of their twelve wins, HV71 took eight in overtime.
In Game 6, Djurgården took the lead when Andreas Holmqvist blasted a slap shot from high slot, and beat HV71 goaltender Stefan Liv high on the stick side. HV71 got back into the game in the next shift when Pasi Puistola beat Djurgården’s Gustaf Wesslau high on the short side.
When David Petrasek gave HV71 the 2-1 lead, many people were ready to hand out those classic Swedish golden helmets that the champions sport after the game. But this season’s DIF was resilient, never breaking down.
With 3:55 remaining, Kristoffer Ottoson cut inside - after Janne Niinimaa had lost his stick, and went back to pick it up - and beat Liv high on the stick side again, to send the game into another overtime.
Djurgården’s Andreas Engqvist - who signed with Montreal Canadiens last summer, but played the first year of the contract in Stockholm - hit the post and the crossbar early in the OT. In the next shift, Johan Davidsson, HV71 captain, heart and soul, played the puck to the blueline. The puck was shot towards the net, Teemu Laine took it down with his hand and beat Wesslau with a wrist shot form the slot. Game over.
Off with the helmet. On the with the golden ones.
The championship was HV71’s fourth. Johan Davidsson and Per Gustafsson have been on all four golden teams, just teenagers in 1995 when the team finished eighth in the regular season, then went all the way. In 2004, and 2008, they played dominant roles. This season, Gustafsson missed the post-season due to an injury, but Davidsson was his usual self, leading the league in post-season scoring with 16 points in 16 games. He was also named playoffs MVP.
“It’s a great honour, but as I’ve said before, the team comes first, that’s what counts,” Davidsson said in the Swedish TV studio after the final.
“All the overtime games have been both fun and stressful, we’ve made some of the games a little too difficult for ourselves. But, we can thank Stefan Liv for making key saves for us. It's hard not to win with such a goalie,” he added.
Stefan Liv truly rose to the occasion. Even being back in the final for the third straight year, Liv was considered something of a question mark. His regular season save percentage stayed at 90.87, seventh in the league, and went down during the post-season. Liv’s post-season save percentage was 90.27, but he also posted two shutouts.
In Game 6, Liv’s save percentage was 94.4.
“It’s a fantastic feeling to win. I was at my best when it mattered,” he said, laughing.
Liv, just as Davidsson, Gustafsson, and Petrasek - who broke the regular season defencemen scroring record - are all Jönköping natives.
“I started playing hockey with HV71 when I was five or six, I’ve watched the Elitserien team play, I’ve been at the fan section cheering, there’s no doubt that HV71 is the team in my heart,” David Petrasek told IIHF.com earlier this season.
It’s those roots that are the public secret of HV71. This championship team had seven players that have come through their own junior system, and several others from other clubs in the region. Such as Adam Almquist, 19, born and raised in Jönköping, who cracked the Elitserien roster halfway through the season, played 28 games in the regular season – and collected 11 points in 16 post-season games, tied for lead with teammates Petrasek and Puistola.
Also, only six players on the 2010 team weren’t on the 2008 team that won the Swedish championship.
Johan Davidsson accepted Le Mat trophy, and without hoisting it, gave it to David Petrasek and Per Gustafsson, who got the honour of kicking off the celebrations, although, the HV71 players took it seemingly easy with the celebrations after the game.
“We’ll wait until we get back home to our fans,” said Martin Thörnberg, referring to a feud that had HV71 stopping Djurgården fans from getting to Games 4 and 5, and DIF then returning the favour to HV71 fans in Game 6.
“The fans have deserved the celebration,” he added.
Le Mat is in Jönköping again.