Sweden and Germany both had something to prove heading into their second preliminary round game at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship. These teams have history at the World Championships, with Germany having won their last two outings: in 2017, when Germany would go on to their Cinderella story fourth place finish, and in 2019, when Laura Kluge scored in the shootout to clinch the win and Sweden was relegated.
The competition was no less intense on Saturday in Frederikshavn. Germany was on the hunt for their first win after opening the tournament with a loss to Hungary and Sweden was looking to build upon a strong start against Denmark.
What first appeared to be a low-scoring game came to a peak in the third period, with Germany scoring three unanswered power play goals to tie the game and take it to overtime.
Germany changed up their goaltending for this game, with Abstreiter getting the start over Franziska Albl. In the first period, she made saves off of a one-timer from Hanna Olsson and a point blank shot from Mira Jungaker.
"It obviously helps if the D block a lot of shots, which I think we did, we did do a good job," said Abstreiter. "We had good sticks in the D zone. There wasn’t even a lot of rebounds."
University of Minnesota-Duluth starter Soderberg was also composed, and while she faced fewer shots than Abstreiter, calmly made key saves, including an attempt from Sonja Weidenfelder in tight near the crease and a hard Nina Jobst-Smith shot from the blueline.
The opportunities continued into the second period, but the score continued to sit at 0-0. With a passionate crowd donning yellow Swedish jerseys cheering them on, Sweden relentlessly sent pucks towards Abstreiter. Lina Ljungblom eventually broke the stalemate with just over seven minutes remaining in the period, winning a face-off and then one-timing a pass from Linnea Johansson past the German netminder.
Coming off of a hat trick against Denmark, Olsson looked confident, ringing the puck off the crossbar during a Swedish power play. The Swedish centre (a.k.a. ‘Goal-sson’, as written on a Swedish fan’s sign) was the next to strike, dragging the puck across the crease to tuck it behind Abstreiter.
"That’s my teammates back home in Frolunda. They’re awesome," Olsson said of her new nickname. "I just feel that it’s so nice to play hockey right now. I really enjoy every day and every single moment on the ice. I put in a lot of quality work and that’s the reason why I score goals."
Germany’s line of Bernadette Karpf and Luisa and Lilli Welcke put the pressure on Soderberg in the third period, with a wrap around attempt and a scramble in front that sent a loose puck on top of the net. Sweden responded with another goal to go up 3-0, a shot from defender Paula Bergstrom that fell awkwardly behind Abstreiter and across the line.
The Germans started to close the gap late in the third period, starting with a power play goal from Nina Christof. Sweden would be shorthanded once again when Ljungblom took a checking from behind major with just under five minutes to go, giving Germany a power play for the remainder of the game.
Then it was time for the Eisenschmid sisters to shine. Nicola Eisenschmid scored first, assisted on by sister Tanja. With 42 seconds remaining, Germany's bench erupted as Tanja scored the tying goal, sending the game to overtime (the first game of the tournament to require extra time).
"I shot the puck and I just tried to get it to the net, hoping it went in, and it did. We were super excited," said Tanja. "We just got that momentum going. We just never gave up. We were positive throughout the entire game, trying to get pucks to the net."
"I think for the last game that we played against Hungary we kind of let down after getting the first goal against and today we never let go of our momentum," said Abstreiter. "Obviously the Swedes had it for a long time, but we never had any negative thoughts, we kept going. We kept it positive and it kind of worked out for us."
Sweden’s Maja Nylen Persson nearly scored off a breakaway in the final seconds of overtime, but the game was destined for a shootout. Soderberg stopped four German attempts, while Olsson and Jungaker scored to secure the win.
"That was a crazy. We had a kind of rocky end to the third so I’m happy we were able to get the two points," said Soderberg. "I think we all know this is not kind of how we wanted to end the game, we were up 3-0, so we shouldn’t be too happy. Now we have to focus."
Now with two wins in Denmark, Sweden has already improved upon their preliminary round record from 2019, when they registered one win, two losses, and one shootout loss.