With the flip of a backhand on Soviet goaltender Andrei Trefilov, the go-ahead goal from young Swedish prodigy Mats Sundin marked the end of the era of Iron Curtain dominance in international hockey, as Tre Kronor‘s unlikely savior notched Sweden their fifth World Championship title in what would be the Soviet Union’s final Worlds appearance, capturing the International Hockey Lineal Championship in the process.
The lead-up to this game, which was the final game of the Medal Rounds, was already wrought with drama as earlier in the day, the Canada-USA game turned into a farcical event, with Canada needing a win by five goals to stay in Gold contention, and the Americans needing a win period to even compete for Bronze. Despite being down 8-4, the Americans pulled their goalie, giving Canada an empty net goal with a second remaining to pull into first in the standings, upsetting both the Swedish and Soviet delegations that the Americans would even bother pulling the goalie for the impossible task of four goals in one minute. Thus, the game began with each side one point behind Canada for Gold, with a tie potentially leaving neither with the championship.
The underdog Swedes, who in 1990 finished with Silver (behind the USSR), and their previous Gold came at the hands of an Austrian judge’s decision over a player eligibility controversy in 1987 (at the expense of the Soviets), came out firing early, with Jonas Bergqvist catching a surprised Andrei Trefilov off-guard to open the scoring just 2:30 into the game, using Soviet defender Alexei Kasatonov as a screen to fool Trefilov below his glove and put Sweden up 1-0. Just under eight minutes later on a Soviet power play, Alexander Semak took a Andrei Lomakin cross-ice feed, deked his way through the Swedish defence and popped in the equalizer through Rolf Ridderwall’s wide open five-hole to even things at 1-1 after 20 minutes.
The second period saw no scoring and three penalties, and the mood in Elysée Arena was beginning to come to the uneasy conclusion that Canada may in fact win Gold on a tiebreaking technicality, thanks to the (in)actions of Team USA. But it was the 20 year old Sundin, who two years earlier was the first European #1 NHL Draft pick, and who had just come off his rookie campaign with the Québec Nordiques, who took the game on his stick and put Tre Kronor‘s medal fate in his own hands. Sundin took the puck from just outside his own red line, glided coast-to-coast, set up a nifty deke around Vyacheslav Fetisov and squeezed the puck through Trefilov’s five hole, leaving the netminder visibly stunned and the pro-Swedish crowd in hysterics.
With Ridderwall keeping the door closed since his five-hole gaffe in the first period, Tre Kronor seemed like they were in position to score the upset, until a Kjell Samuelsson cross check with 3:16 remaining put this in doubt. However, Sweden’s penalty kill and Ridderwolf managed to shut the door, and the Turku crowd counted the Swedes down to their historic victory, leaving the Soviet powerhouse Gold-less in what would be their final attempt at international hockey glory at the World Championship. While they would have a presence at that summer’s Canada Cup, the roster was noticeably depleted over fears of top Soviet stars defecting abroad and turmoil at home, and they only won one of five games, failing to advance to the playoff round.
With the victory, Sweden captured their 31st International Hockey Lineal Championship, which they had lost previously to the USSR in December 1990 (also in Turku), who went on to win 15 straight before this upset in Turku. Sweden won only their tenth IHLC matchup against the Soviets in history, who at this point had racked up 71 wins and 8 ties against Tre Kronor by comparison. The Swedes would drop the IHLC back to the Soviets in their first post-Worlds game, a Canada Cup exhibition match in Västerås on 14 August, that the Soviets won 4-3.
02:30 – 🇸🇪 GOAL – Bergvist
09:46 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Gustafsson, interference
10:10 – 🇷🇺 PP GOAL – Semak (Lomakin, Mironov)
18:27 – 🇸🇪 PEN – M. Johansson, hooking
29:10 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Semak, holding
33:25 – 🇷🇺 PEN – Butsayev, holding
33:31 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Jonsson, holding
49:37 – 🇸🇪 GOAL – Sundin
56:44 – 🇸🇪 PEN – Samuelsson, cross checking
W: 🇸🇪 Ridderwall
L: 🇷🇺 Trefilov
🇸🇪 Goaltenders: Peter Lindmark, Rolf Ridderwall, Tommy Söderström. Defence: Peter Andersson, Calle Johansson, Tomas Jonsson, Kenneth Kennholt, Nicklas Lidström, Kjell Samuelsson, Fredrik Stillman. Forwards: Charles Berglund, Jonas Bergqvist, Anders Carlsson, Pelle Eklund, Patrik Erickson, Johan Garpenlöv, Bengt-Åke Gustafsson, Mikael Johansson, Håkan Loob, Mats Näslund, Thomas Rundqvist (C), Mats Sundin, Jan Viktorsson.
🇷🇺 Goaltenders: Alexei Marin, Vladimir Myshkin, Andrei Trefilov. Defence: Ilya Byakin, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Alexei Gusarov, Alexei Kasatonov, Vladimir Konstantinov (C), Igor Kravchuk, Vladimir Malakhov, Dmitri Mironov. Forwards: Pavel Bure, Vyacheslav Butsayev, Vyacheslav Bykov, Valeri Kamenski, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Dmitri Kvartalnov, Andrei Lomakin, Sergei Makarov, Sergei Nemchinov, Alexander Semak, Valeri Zelepukin, Alexei Zhamnov.
|🇸🇪 SWEDEN||vs.||SOVIET UNION (C) 🇷🇺|
(previous 16 Dec 1990)
(since 16 Dec 1990)
(+ 8 ties)
|First IHLC Meeting (SWE vs. URS)
🇷🇺 URS 3-0 SWE 🇸🇪 – 26 Dec 1954 – EX – Stockholm 🇸🇪
|Previous IHLC Meeting (SWE vs. URS)
🇷🇺 URS 5-5 SWE 🇸🇪 – 28 Apr 1991 – WC – Turku 🇫🇮
|Last IHLC Game
🇷🇺 URS 3-3 CAN 🇨🇦 – 02 May 1991 – WC – Turku 🇫🇮
|Next IHLC Game
🇷🇺 URS 4-3 SWE 🇸🇪 – 14 Aug 1991 – EX – Västerås 🇸🇪