In Gold Medal Game befitting one the biggest rivalries in hockey, Sweden emerged from the 2006 Turin Olympiad with their second Olympic title, defeating border rivals Finland 3-2 to unify the Gold with the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
Both Sweden and Finland, which dispatched the Czechia and Russia from the Semifinals respectively by four goals each, started the game off slightly more subdued, understanding each other’s approach to the game. However, some early penalty trouble for Tre Kronor allowed Finland to capitalize, with Kimmo Timonen opening the scoring on a power play point shot that squirted through Henrik Lundqvist’s legs and in for the 1-0 lead. After the first period, the Leijonat led, despite being outshot 9-7 in the opening frame.
Sweden equalized on a power play tally of their own to open the second, with Henrik Zetterberg banking in a wraparound shot on goal off Finnish defenceman Aki-Petteri Berg and past Antero Niittymäki to even things up at 1-1. The Swedes struck again with the man advantage just under ten minutes later, with Niklas Kronwall rifling a shot while stumbling to the ice past Niittymäki to put Tre Kronor ahead 2-1. But Finland would be quick to respond, with a beautiful Olli Jokinen pass from behind the net, threaded through Swedish defenceman Nicklas Lidström legs, and on to the stick of Ville Peltonen, lifting a backhander over Lundqvist to tie things at 2-2 just 1:36 later.
While the game was obviously very evenly matched after forty minutes, you wouldn’t know it when Sweden struck suddenly only ten seconds into the third period, with Mats Sundin leaving a beautiful drop pass for Lidström just above the blue-line, which Lidström ripped past Niittymäki to take the 3-2 lead. Tre Kronor played a solid defensive outing from there, despite being outshot in the third, with defensive anchors like Lidström, Kronwall and Kenny Jönsson slowing down the quick Finnish offense, and Lundqvist making the key saves when needed, including robbing Jokinen on a diving save with just 25 seconds left in regulation. Sweden held on to win the game, and capture the Gold in Turin.
The win resulted in Sweden’s second Olympic Gold Medal, their first since 1994 in Lillehammer. This was also the fifth consecutive Olympics where the winner of the men’s tournament also went home with the International Hockey Lineal Championship – for more, check out the IHLC @ Olympics & Invitationals page. Russia began the Olympics as champions, dropping the title to Slovakia in their opening game, who successfully defended against Latvia, the United States, Kazakhstan and Sweden. The Czechs won the IHLC in the Quarterfinals, only to lose to Sweden 7-3 in the Semis, who then defeated Finland for Gold.
The Gold also marks Sweden’s 59th reign as IHLC champions, and first reign since winning the title from the Czechs at the Česká Pojišťovna Cup in September 2005. The Gold Medal Game, the 58th IHLC meeting between the border rivals Sweden and Finland, was the first between the two since the close of the 2005 Karjala Tournament, where Finland won 2-1 to capture the IHLC. The win guaranteed the IHLC’s re-entry to the Euro Hockey Tour, with Sweden carrying the title into the LG Hockey Games in April 2006.
02:43 – PEN – Hävelid, hooking
08:28 – PEN – Laaksonen, cross checking
14:15 – PEN – J. Jönsson, hooking
14:45 – PP GOAL – Timonen (Selänne)
15:53 – PEN – Modin, hooking
23:52 – PEN – Lydman, hooking
24:42 – PP GOAL – Zetterberg (Samuelsson, Bäckman)
24:57 – PEN – O. Jokinen, tripping
28:20 – PEN – Nummelin, holding
33:00 – PEN – Koivu, hooking
33:24 – PP GOAL – Kronwall (Zettterberg)
35:00 – GOAL – Peltonen (J. Jokinen, O. Jokinen)
35:53 – PEN – Hävelid, hooking
38:27 – PEN – Holmström, interference
38:47 – PEN – J. Jokinen, interference
40:10 – GOAL – Lidström (M. Sundin, Forsberg)
41:33 – PEN – Alfredsson, tripping
51:50 – PEN – Kronwall, interference
55:34 – PEN – Lydman, high sticking
W: Lundqvist (25-27)
L: Niittymäki (25-28)
SHOTS ON GOAL
9+11+8 = 28
7+10+10 = 27
Goaltenders: Henrik Lundqvist, Mikael Tellqvist. Defence: Christian Bäckman, Niclas Hävelid, Kenny Jönsson, Niklas Kronwall, Nicklas Lidström (A), Ronnie Sundin, Daniel Tjärnqvist. Forwards: Daniel Alfredsson (A), Per-Johan Axelsson, Peter Forsberg, Mika Hannula, Tomas Holmström, Jörgen Jönsson, Fredrik Modin, Samuel Påhlsson, Mikael Samuelsson, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Mats Sundin (C), Henrik Zetterberg.
Goaltenders: Antero Niittymäki, Fredrik Norrena. Defence: Aki-Petteri Berg, Lasse Kukkonen, Toni Lydman, Antti-Jussi Niemi, Petteri Nummelin, Teppo Numminen (A), Kimmo Timonen (A). Forwards: Niklas Hagman, Jukka Hentunen, Jussi Jokinen, Olli Jokinen, Niko Kapanen, Mikko Koivu, Saku Koivu (C), Antti Laaksonen, Jere Lehtinen, Ville Nieminen, Ville Peltonen, Jarkko Ruutu, Teemu Selänne.