BURLINGTON – Sara Benz scored a power-play goal with 3:08 left in regulation to break a 2-2 tie and propel the Swiss into the quarter-finals. Shockingly, the loss puts the Swedes at real risk of having to play in the Relegation Round against Slovakia.
Germany plays the Slovaks later today, and a German win would leave Sweden in third place in Group B having to fight to stay in the top pool for 2013.
The win was keyed by determination throughout the team and some excellent goaltending from Florence Schelling. "I had a dream that we won," the goalie revealed. "Usually when I dream about hockey, it's going to happen because I don't often remember my dreams. But I woke up this morning, and I had a good feeling."
Shots on goal favoured Sweden, 49-23, but time and again Schelling was there to make the save.
"I think we owned the game for sixty minutes," offered Sweden's captain, Erika Holst, "but we couldn't put the puck behind their goalie. When they get momentum, they get energy."
The Swedes opened the scoring on the power play, although the play came off the rush. Pernilla Winberg spotted Jenni Asserholt break up the middle at the Swiss blue line and connected with a perfect pass. Asserholt made no mistake from in close, beating Schelling cleanly at 4:16.
The Swedes controlled much of the period, but Switzerland capitalized on an error by Damkronor to tie the game later in the period. Captain Kathrin Lehmann got the puck alone in front and displayed quick hands to deke Kim Martin and backhand the puck in the open side to make it 1-1.
The second period was scoreless but only because of the stellar play of Schelling. She made several big saves, notably stopping Lina Wester on a breakaway created when defenceman Julia Marty fell at her blue line.
Schelling’s efforts did not go for naught. Early in the third Julia Marty put the Swiss ahead. Her original shot was topped by Martin, but Marty drove hard to the net and jammed the puck over the line before the goalie could find it.
Erika Holst, though, tied the game at 8:55, igniting a nervous and tense Swedish bench. But unlike other occasions when the goal fulled a Swedish rally and victory, the Swiss remained calm and took play to their opponents.
"We knew we had nothing to lose," admitted Lehmann. "The atmosphere on the bench was great, and today we were a team. We were never afraid; we never got nervous. We knew they had tremendous scorers, but we had some great chances. We just knew that we'd score another one."
They did indeed get one more goal, and now they are off to the playoffs as just reward.