Swede medal dreams
by Risto Pakarinen|12 JAN 2023
Stina Andersson gave the Swedes an early lead in the semifinal against Slovakia. 
photo: Chris Tanouye / IIHF

Sweden was a heavy favourite to win the quarterfinal game against Slovakia, and the hosts took care of business and clinched a semifinal berth. The final score was 6-1.

Sweden outshot Slovakia 49-12.

“Overall, we played a good game, and it’s good for the team to have several players who have scored. It gives their confidence a boost and the more we have confident players the better,” said Sweden’s leading scorer Hilda Svensson.

Before the game, eight players on the Swedish team had scored a goal in the tournament, while Slovakia had got 11 of their 13 goals from the sticks of Zuzana Dobiasova and Nela Lopusanova, the tournament’s breakout star.

After the quarterfinal, Sweden has eleven players with a goal in the tournament. Lopusanova scored for Slovakia.

"It was a tough game for us, but it's a new day tomorrow," said Slovakia captain Dobiasova.

In the first period, the teams traded powerplay opportunities.

Sweden got their first powerplay opportunity five minutes into the game and it was their second powerplay that unlocked the Slovak defence. Moa Gustafsson played the puck to the blueline. Astrid Lindeberg fired a slap shot, and Stina Andersson took care of the rebound to give the hosts the lead in the game at 7.09. 

Slovakia tied the game just minutes later when Nela Lopusanova – who’s having quite the coming out party in Ostersund – scored the tournament’s moist spectacular goal when she surprised Felicia Frank in Sweden’s goal with a lacrosse-style goal. She became the first woman to do that in an IIHF tournament.

"It was an amazing goal. She's an amazing talent," Dobiasova said. 

Sweden reclaimed the lead on powerplay when Jenni Raunio, back after a maintenance day, scored her first of the tournament from the slot, assisted by Ebba Hedqvist and Mira Jungaker at 12.50. 

Slovakia got their chance eleven seconds when Linnea Natt och Dag was sent to the penalty box again, but this time Sweden managed to kill off the penalty.

Sweden took complete control of the game in the second period, keeping Slovakia in their own zone, pushing them on their heels. At 3.31, Isabelle Leijonhielm gabbed a loose puck from the corner, circled back and fired a wrister from the slot that beat Livia Debnarova to make it 3-1. 

Sweden vs Slovakia (QF) - 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship
SWE SVK 12 JAN 2023

Natt och Dag made up for her penalties when she picked up an assist to Leijonhielm’s goal and then scored Sweden’s fourth goal with a slap shot from the point giving her team a three-goal lead before the game was halfway through.

And they weren’t done yet. 

A mere 29 seconds into the third period Hedqvist got the puck low in the Slovak zone after a good forecheck by Mira Hallin, and she fired the puck upstairs for her second and Sweden’s fifth goal of the game.

Sweden's leading scorer, Hilda Svensson, also got on the scoresheet halfway through the period when she connected with Mia Markstrom who flipped the puck to her from behind the bet. Svensson patiently waited out Debnarova and backhanded the puck into the net for 6-1 at 7.50.

“I don’t what the secret to our line is, if there is one. We’ve learned to know each other better and seem to find each other on the ice as well,” Svensson said.

Sweden is through to the medal games; Slovakia will play for fifth place on Saturday.

"It's been an unforgettable experience for me, both on and off the ice," Dobiasova said.

Sweden vs Slovakia (QF) - 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship