In a game of close defence and lucky bounces, it was Sweden that reigned supreme in Cologne, defeating Canada in a narrow victory, the first Gold Medal Game since 1994 to go to a shootout, to capture their tenth World Championship crown, and capture the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
For two teams that cruised through the tournament on the backs of their offensive prowess, the game was surprisingly tight in the first forty minutes, with each side getting few quality chances, and even then, unable to solve star goaltenders Henrik Lundqvist or Calvin Pickard. Both teams were careful on the ice as well, with only five penalties combined through two periods; ironically, however, it was Sweden’s penalty late in the second that opened the scoring, as Victor Hedman, on an awkward backhander from the point while shorthanded, fell awkwardly to the ice, fooled Pickard in mid-air, and trickled through the five-hole and in to give Tre Kronor the 1-0 lead.
As expected, the offense increased in the third, with Canada looking to equalize and Sweden looking to lock down the win in regulation. It was a Swedish penalty that would again lead to a goal, except this time, it was Canada capitalizing on the power play, with sniper Ryan O’Reilly, on a torrid hot streak through the medal round, chipping at a Mitch Marner rebound that deflected off Lundqvist and in, putting the game at 1-1. Each team exchanged penalties late in the frame, including a costly too many men on the ice penalty for Sweden with just 1:24 remaining in regulation, but neither side was able to take advantage.
Overtime would resolve nothing, with Sweden squandering a Sean Couturier tripping call midway through the frame, and thus, for the first time in nearly a quarter century, the Gold was to be decided on penalty shots. Pickard and Lundqvist each stopped their first shooter, but Nicklas Bäckström gave Sweden the lead on a nifty wrister after outwaiting Pickard. Brayden Point was stopped by Lundqvist next, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, pulling a similar move to Bäckström on Pickard’s opposite side, doubling Sweden’s lead. Both O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog missed their chances, and with Canada needing a goal from Marner to stay alive, it was Lundqvist shutting the door with his blocker to win 2-0 on penalties, and 2-1 in the final score.
With the win, Sweden captures the International Hockey Lineal Championship for a record 75th time, their first title since the 2015 World Championships Group Round, which they lost to Canada in the last meeting between these two prior to today. The win is only Sweden’s 18th against Canada for the IHLC in 62 matches, dating back to the 1920 Olympic Gold Medal Game, and is the fourth Worlds final between them in history, with Canada winning the previous three tilts in 1997, 2003 and 2004. As noted above, this is just the second time under the modern Worlds format that the Gold has been decided on penalties, the only other instance being Canada’s 1994 victory over Finland in Milan. The win ensures that now the IHLC will start the 2017-18 season with Tre Kronor on the Euro Hockey Tour.
The victory also concludes a tumultuous ride for the IHLC at these World Championships, which started with Canada in Paris with opening wins over Czechia, Slovenia, Belarus and France. Switzerland upset Canada in overtime to win the title, but lost the IHLC the next day to Finland in a similar overtime loss, who in turn then lost it back to Canada two days later. Canada defeated Germany in the Quarterfinals and Russia in the Semifinals once in the Medal Round in Cologne to reach the Gold Medal Game, before their attempt at “three-peating” as champions for the first time since 1952 was thwarted by Sweden. For more, check out the IHLC @ IIHF World Championships page.
05:56 – PEN – Matheson, tripping
13:08 – PEN – Killorn, slashing
20:50 – PEN – Bäckström, holding
30:55 – PEN – Morrissey, holding
39:17 – PEN – Bäckström, slashing
39:39 – SH GOAL – Hedman
41:48 – PEN – Lindholm, high sticking
41:58 – PP GOAL – O’Reilly (Marner, MacKinnon)
56:42 – PEN – Matheson, tripping
58:36 – PEN – team, too many players
69:07 – PEN – Couturier, tripping
W: H. Lundqvist (41-42)
L: Pickard (41-43)
SHOTS ON GOAL
12+6+12+11+1 = 42
10+12+11+10+0 = 43
Goaltenders: Viktor Fasth, Henrik Lundqvist. Defence: Jonas Brodin, Alexander Edler, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Victor Hedman (A), Philip Holm, John Klingberg, Anton Strålman. Forwards: Nicklas Bäckström, Joel Eriksson Ek, Dennis Everberg, William Karlsson, Marcus Krüger, Gabriel Landeskog (A), Oscar Lindberg, Elias Lindholm, Joel Lundqvist (C), Joakim Nordström, William Nylander, Victor Rask, Carl Söderberg.
Goaltenders: Chad Johnson, Calvin Pickard. Defence: Calvin de Haan, Jason Demers, Chris Lee, Michael Matheson, Josh Morrissey, Colton Parayko, Marc-Édouard Vlasic (A). Forwards: Sean Couturier, Matt Duchene, Claude Giroux (C), Alex Killorn, Travis Konecny, Ryan O’Reilly (A), Nathan MacKinnon, Mitchell Marner, Brayden Point, Mark Scheifele, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jeff Skinner.