Swedish Olympic finalist helps new heroes
by Martin Merk|28 JUN 2019
Kim Martin Hasson talks with Mexican goaltender Paola Garcia.
photo: Martin Merk
Until 2006 there has been no gold medal game in women’s hockey at Olympics or the Women’s Worlds that wasn’t a North American rivalry. Then came the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, where goaltender Kim Martin Hasson and her teammates from Sweden wrote history and had their career highlight.

In the semi-finals between the United States and Sweden the game started according to the usual pattern with the Americans going up 2-0 after 22 minutes of play. But after that Martin Hasson didn’t allow a single goal anymore, saved 37 out of 39 shots while Maria Rooth scored twice to tie the game just a few minutes after the second U.S. goal. The remainder of regulation time and the ten-minute overtime period remained scoreless. In the third round of the shootout Pernilla Winberg scored the first goal. Martin Hasson made another save in the fourth round and Rooth with another goal made everything clear. Sweden scored the biggest sensation in women’s hockey history at that time.
Kim Martin Hasson’s career highlight was winning silver at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games when Sweden sensationally eliminated the United States in the semi-finals.
photo: Jani Rajamaki / Europhoto
And the memories of it still stay as Sweden became the only European team to make the final of the Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament finishing with silver after a 4-1 loss to Canada. At the senior IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championships no European team had accomplished the fate until Finland’s sensational Women’s Worlds campaign last spring on home ice in Espoo. Finland beat Canada 4-2 in the semi-finals with Noora Raty’s heroics in the net and was close to even more historic gold before losing to the United States 2-1 in a shootout.

Goaltenders can play an important part in international women’s hockey and in allowing such upsets. The goaltender of the tournament awards have often gone to goaltenders whose performances created an upset as the two mentioned ones or when Florence Schelling’s heroics led Switzerland to two bronze medals at the Women’s Worlds in 2012 and the Olympics in Sochi 2014, or Slovakia to the Olympics and top-level Women’s Worlds during Zuzana Tomcikova’s best years. These two retired goaltenders same as Martin Hasson are at the 2019 IIHF Goaltending Development Camp to work with the current and future generation of female goalies in IIHF play.

Female netminders from 24 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America at the camp do not only learn a lot on and off the ice from coaches and mentors. They are supposed to help their countries get better and close the gap between countries – and between North America and the rest of the world – with their performances and proper goalie coaching for the top female hockey goalies in these countries.

Kim Martin Hasson is one of the mentors with an impressive hockey CV who came to the goalie camp in Slovakia to help the new generation of goaltenders. She started as a goalie with her father being a goaltending coach and her brother being a goalie. Now all three are into goalie coaching. She’s working with the under-18 groups of goalies in Hamuliakovo south of Bratislava. We had a chat with her about the past and future.

You had your biggest success winning silver at the 2006 Olympics. With which expectations did you go to the Turin at that time?
In Salt Lake City (in 2002) we did something that probably no one in Sweden thought we would do. We won a bronze medal. The expectations obviously increased, they thought we were going to win another medal. The team had confidence. Nobody was afraid to go to the Olympic Games because there was more excitement and feeling in the team.

Then came the semi-final where Sweden beat the U.S. It was the biggest upset in women’s ice hockey back then. And you were in the net for Sweden.
The team had worked so hard for four years right after Salt Lake City. We had our goals and the whole team was prepared. Sometimes when you work hard you get lucky. That game for myself, everything just went my way and it’s really the highlight of my career. Everything felt great. I felt in good shape. I was confident. The team believed in me and the coaches. That means a lot for a goalie. I was lucky but at the same time I worked hard for it.

What does it take to have such a game? Obviously a goalie doesn’t have a game like that every night.
I think if you work hard, sooner or later you’ll get lucky. Sometimes you get it in the wrong game and I got it in the perfect game. And it was not only me, it was a team effort. Everybody worked really hard for each other. We had a good team chemistry, which means a lot. Otherwise just good preparation; believe in yourself both physically and mentally. And I felt I did.

Where is the silver medal right now? Any other gifts at home to remember Turin 2006?
Not really, I never bring it up. I was voted best goalie in the world first time. That was huge and I’m proud of that. The silver medal is actually in a box. We’re on the way to relocate. Usually I have my prizes behind glass.
Kim Martin Hasson in action during the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.
photo: Jani Rajamaki / Europhoto
How has your life and hockey life been after retiring in 2015?
First I kind of felt I was done. I played a couple of Worlds and a couple of Olympics and there was nothing really else. I was looking forward to having a kid. So right after that I had a daughter, she’s two-and-a-half years old now, and we’re looking for having another kid. I worked for a club team [Linkoping HC] back home. I was the GM for four years and now decided to do other stuff in the club. So it’s still a lot of hockey but in another way. At our club I’m looking what we can give back to our community, get more kids moving since I feel a lot of kids are sitting too much nowadays so that more play sports like hockey. All kinds of stuff that can be good for the city.

Now we’re here at the camp to help these goalies make a step forward who can help their team be competitive like you did. How is it for you to be here?
It’s really exciting. A lot of goalies are really good. I see a great future for a lot of countries. It’s an honour to be here and represent my country but also to teach and inspire the next generation.

What’s your first impression after the first day with the goalies?
Really good. I’m impressed. There are some countries that may have a harder time because there are no goalie coaches but there are some goalies who have played for seven months and now still do very well. It’s fun.

While you were part of medal-winning Swedish teams, this year has been a lowlight with relegation. How did you follow that shock?
I think Swedish hockey is going forward even though this upset happened. Sweden has a really good team with talent. There are young girls coming up who are really good. I think it was just a bad year. There were players who were maybe not ready mentally. They know they can play hockey. I think we shouldn’t take it too negative. Just forget what happened, move on and hopefully the federation will support women’s hockey even more and see that we are needed.

Who is the best goalie right now?
That’s a hard one. I must say Noora Raty played phenomenal Worlds. I’d say she’s the best one right now.