There are sports events which reach mythological proportions over time for reasons which are somewhat difficult for a worldwide audience to fully appreciate. And there is no question that Sweden’s Gold medal victory at the 1962 World Championship in Colorado Springs would probably not have been perceived as such a huge achievement by Swedish fans had not the win for ever been linked with a play-by-play radio commentary by legendary announcer Lennart Hyland.
Tell the words “Den glider i màl” (“It slides into the net“) to a Swede and he will immediately refer to Hyland’s commentary of forward Nisse Nilsson’s empty-net goal that sealed Sweden’s 5-3 win over heavy favourite Canada at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
That game and victory occurred during an era when a Swedish win in hockey against Canada – any Canadian team – was bigger than life. Very few Swedes knew, or cared, that the defending World Champions from Canada in 1961 was represented by an amateur club team, the Galt Terriers, in Colorado Springs. This was the first World Championship on North American ice and Sweden had never before – not in 42 years of hockey competition – defeated the Canadians in Olympic or World Championship competition. Never.
The game started at 4:15 in the morning Swedish time, and according to general belief half the Swedish population woke up to listen to Hyland’s radio commentary. Backstopped by rookie goaltender Lennart Häggroth and Ulf Sterner’s two goals, Sweden jumped to a 4-0-lead in the second period. But Canada bounced back and the score was 4-3 as the final minutes ticked off the clock.
Then, the Terriers pulled goaltender Harold “Boat” Hurley for a sixth attacker. The empty-net goal that forward Nisse Nilsson scored (his second goal of the game) with an ice-length shot was technically not a game winner, but that was the puck that was accompanied all the way down the ice by Hyland’s emotional “Den glider i màààààààl…” At around 6:30 in the morning Swedish sports history was written and for the Scandinavian country this radio clip has become an integral part of its history, fully comparable with how Canadians perceive Foster Hewitt’s “Henderson has scored for Canada!” in 1972.
Sweden was World Champion for the third time, but on the two previous occasions (1953 and 1957) neither Canada nor the U.S. participated for political reasons. On the other hand, neither the Soviet Union nor Czechoslovakia were present in Colorado Springs / Denver in ‘62 as the Eastern Bloc countries boycotted the event due to the United States’ refusal to give entry visas to communist ally East Germany (in protest of the erection of the Berlin Wall just seven months earlier).
But that didn’t bother the Swedes. Public opinion was that if the team with national icon Sven “Tumba” Johansson (a member of those champion teams of 1953 and 1957) could defeat Canada and the USA on North American ice they surely would have beaten the Europeans as well. The legend surrounding this game and Nilsson’s final goal grew over the years, and it would take Tre Kronor exactly another quarter of a century before they captured another World Championship title.
01:07 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Sloan
06:18 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Maki
19:06 – 🇸🇪 GOAL – Sterner (Stoltz)
19:21 – 🇸🇪 GOAL – Johansson (Määttä)
20:00 – 🇨🇦 PEN – McLeod
20:09 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Smith
20:56 – 🇸🇪 PP GOAL – Nilsson (Nordlander, Stoltz)
22:29 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Smith
23:51 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Karlsson
26:35 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Karlsson
29:18 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Martin
30:18 – 🇨🇦 PEN – McLeod
30:42 – 🇸🇪 PP GOAL – Sterner (Härdin)
34:01 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Martin (Wylie)
37:15 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Karlsson, misconduct
43:08 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – Smith (Mader)
52:02 – 🇨🇦 GOAL – McLeod (Sloan)
59:00 – 🇸🇪 GOAL – Nilsson (Lundvall)
59:25 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Stoltz
59:25 – 🇨🇦 PEN – Martin, major
W: 🇸🇪 Häggroth (35-38)
L: 🇨🇦 Hurley (18-23)
SHOTS ON GOAL
🇸🇪 6+9+8 = 23
🇨🇦 9+14+15 = 38
🇸🇪 Goaltenders: Lennart Häggroth, Kjell Svensson. Defence: Gert Blomé, Nils Johansson, Bertil Karlsson, Bert-Olov Nordlander, Roland Stoltz. Forwards: Anders Andersson, Leif Andersson, Per-Olof Härdin, Sven Johansson, Lars-Eric Lundvall, Eilert Määttä, Nisse Nilsson, Ronald Pettersson, Ulf Sterner.
🇨🇦 Goaltenders: Harold Hurley, John Zofiak. Defence: John Douglas, Ted Maki, Bill Mitchell, Harry Smith, Bill Wylie. Forwards: Robert Brown, Mel Hogan, Robert Mader, John Malo, Floyd Martin, Robert McKnight, Jack McLeod, Ted Sloan.
|🇸🇪 SWEDEN||vs.||CANADA (C) 🇨🇦|
(previous 26 Nov 1959)
(since 26 Feb 1961)
(+ 3 ties)
|First IHLC Meeting (SWE vs. CAN)
🇨🇦 CAN 12-1 SWE 🇸🇪 – 26 Apr 1920 – OG – Antwerp 🇧🇪 🏅
|Previous IHLC Meeting (SWE vs. CAN)
🇨🇦 CAN 6-1 SWE 🇸🇪 – 02 Mar 1961 – WC – Geneva 🇨🇭
|Last IHLC Game
🇨🇦 CAN 7-2 SUI 🇨🇭 – 11 Mar 1962 – WC – Colorado Springs 🇺🇸
|Next IHLC Game
🇸🇪 SWE 17-0 GBR 🇬🇧 – 15 Mar 1962 – WC – Denver 🇺🇸
Article Credit: IIHF 100 Top Stories Of The Century