Bemstrom is Sweden's shootout hero
by Andy Potts|18 MAY 2022
Emil Bemstrom scores Sweden's game-winning goal against Finland in the shootout.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
It took a shootout to give Sweden the verdict after these two great Nordic rivals shared a 2-2 tie in regulation. Emil Bemstrom was the only player to hit the target in the shootout, ending Finland's unbeaten start on home ice at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and moving Sweden to the Group B summit after four wins in four games.

Bemstrom, an emerging talent with the Columbus Blue Jackets, had the confidence to shot early on Finnish goalie Harri Sateri and was rewarded with an effort that flashed over the glove to separate the teams. At the other end, Magnus Hellberg won all five of his duels with Finland's forwards to secure the win.

"I just tried to be focussed and be in the moment," the Swedish goalie said. "I tried to stay calm and show some confidence, tried not to bite on the first move. Today it went well, I’m really happy we got the extra point."

While this clash in Tampere did not quite hit the heights of Finland’s epic fightback victory at the Olympics earlier this year, there was plenty of incident to enjoy.

After falling behind to Adam Larsson’s first-period goal, the Finns hit back in the second as Mikko Lehtonen had a goal and an assist. But Sweden has been impressive in Tampere throughout the tournament and Joel Kellman’s goal early in the third tied it up at 2-2, paving the way for that eventual shoot-out success.

Sweden's captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson felt that the evening summed up what Team Sweden is all about at this tournament. "I think that’s the kind of team we have," he said. "We never give up, we’re always gonna play hard and we’re gonna get chances. That was the game plan tonight and I thought we played a good game. I thought it was a really good hockey game overall."

Finland's Marko Anttila feels that the battle for top spot in the group is not yet over, even if it is now advantage Sweden. "It was two good teams battling to win the group stage and they won today," he said. "They have a little advantage from that, but we’ve just gotta win the next games and we’ll see where we are." 
Finland vs Sweden - 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship
It took a shootout to give Sweden the verdict after these two great Nordic rivals shared a 2-2 tie in regulation. Emil Bemstrom was the only player to hit the target in the shootout, ending Finland's unbeaten start on home ice.
FIN SWE 18 MAY 2022
Sweden had two new faces on its team for Wednesday’s clash. Jacob Peterson, a 22-year-old Lidkoping native, slotted into the top line on his senior international debut. He arrived in Tampere following the end of the Dallas Stars’ play-off campaign. Similarly, 24-year-old centre Carl Grundstrom jetted in after the Kings bowed out. He went to the fourth line as Sweden iced 12 forwards for the first time in this tournament.

Finland has yet to fill its remaining roster spots, but had to contend with the absence of Saku Maenalanen, suspended for this game. Jukka Jalonen refrained from making big changes and contented himself with moving one-time Ilves youngster Toni Rajala up to the second line alongside Joel Armia and Valtteri Filppula.

As the game settled into its rhythm it became clear that Sweden was happy to take a leaf out of the Leijonat playbook. The Tre Kronor were content to cede territory and possession, confident that its well-drilled defence could keep Finland at bay.

For a time, it worked. Sweden’s counter attacks caused concern, not least when Max Friberg’s wraparound attempt almost deceived the Finnish defence. Ville Pokka chased around the back, opening a path for Friberg to attack, but the Frolunda forward couldn’t angle his stick far enough to get a shot beyond Sateri and the puck squirted to safety in the corner.

Finland’s potent power play has been a feature of the tournament so far: six goals and a 40% conversion rate make it a formidable weapon. So when the home team got its first chance with an extra man, there was a frisson of excitement around the arena. Sakari Manninen set up Teemu Hartikainen for a good chance, but his close-range shot thudded into Magnus Hellberg’s pads; the influential Mikael Granlund was silenced but some diligent Swedish penalty killing.

After going close with one wraparound attempt, Sweden went in front with another. It all started when Friberg cut out a Finnish clearance and launched a new offensive. The second phase of that attack saw Peterson drop the puck for Larsson, who stormed around the back before slinging the puck inside Sateri’s far post to open the scoring.

For a time, the bulk of a capacity crowd in the Nokia Arena was subdued and Oscar Lang threatened to darken the mood still further when he fired a shot over Sateri’s glove and off the crossbar at the start of the second period.

Soon, the mood changed. Amid all the talk of Granlund’s contribution since arriving in Tampere, the points produced by defenceman Lehtonen have gone relatively unnoticed. Here he added two in two minutes, tying the game with a speculative shot that Hellberg could merely escort into his own net before assisting on Sami Vatanen’s go-ahead goal. Lehtonen was the only man on the ice to spot his defensive partner heading to the back door, and the Zurich Lions’ new signing produced an inch-perfect pass to bisect the Swedish defence and present Vatanen with a gift-wrapped opportunity.

"We talked about that before the play with Sami, that he was going to try the back door and I was going to pass to him," Lehtonen said.

That took Lehtonen to 6 (2+4) points for the tournament and he’s been involved in six of Finland’s last eight goals. Lehtonen’s big offensive effort continued, almost creating a third goal with a slap shot that was too hot for Hellberg to handle. Juho Lammikko was first to the rebound, prompting a mass scramble around the Swedish net as the defence held on.

"We need to put those pucks in the net when we have the chance," Lehtonen admitted. "That's how we can bury the game, that's most important. Otherwise, we just need to keep doing what we're doing."

Sweden wobbled, but did not fall. The visitor battled back in the third period and tied the game on 46:38. Erik Gustafsson’s point shot drew a superb tip from Kellman, who steered the puck beyond Sateri with the deftest of touches to reawaken the Swedish section of the crowd.

"First of all, it was a good breakout," the Vaxjo Laker said of his goal. "We got a 3-on-1 and then a good shot from Erik [Gustafsson] on the blueline, who found me in front. It was a big goal to get the game tied. I think we did a great job in the third period."

From that point on, the two teams battled each other to a standstill. Midway through the third period, Kellman came to blows with Marko Anttila and the pair picked up roughing minors. Meanwhile, the better chances fell to Sweden, notably in the closing seconds when Lang almost found a path through the Finnish defence only to find Sateri’s pads. Then, with the last meaningful play of the game, Henrik Tommernes fired in a shot that ricocheted to safety as the Swedish fans gave their team a standing ovation in the closing moments of regulation.

Overtime could not separate the teams, with Hartikainen coming closest to breaking the deadlock in the final minute of the extra period. But this one was destined to go all the way to a shootout before Sweden edged a narrow verdict and moved to the top of the group.
Finland vs Sweden - 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship