Sweden took full advantage of their only home game of the 2017 Karjala Tournament, dispatching Czechia in a 5-3 in Örebro to retain the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
The Czechs took the early lead, striking first on the power play, in a tilt that saw five of eight total goals scored with the man advantage. It was captain Jakub Nakládal fooling Jhonas Enroth, in goal for Tre Kronor, with a screened blast from the point through traffic for the early lead. The Swedes would retaliate just 1:50 later, however, with Dennis Everberg, in the early stages of a Swedish 3-on-2 break, fooling Czech keeper Peter Francouz with an off-angle shot rather than attempting a passing play, going top corner and in to even things at 1-1 heading into first intermission.
Michal Birner would retake the Czech lead 1:55 into the second period, on a heads-up play by Michal Řepík, catching Birner streaking in, and feeding him the timely pass, which Birner buried top corner glove side over Enroth from the hash marks for the lead goal. Oscar Möller would even things up once again, redirecting a Joakim Lindström attempt from the side boards over Francouz and in, tying things at 2-2. Lindström would give Sweden their first lead 2:14 later on the power play, walking in to the hash marks from the side boards and wiring a wrister five hole through a screen and past a blinded Francouz. Unsurprisingly, however, given the nature of the game, the lead here was short-lived, with Lukáš Radil tying the game on a controversial redirect by Andrej Nestrašil, knocking over Enroth in the process, but the goal would stand, to the dismay of the Örebro crowd.
The crowd was certainly more receptive to the third period, however, as the Swedes finally pulled away on a pair of Dick Axelsson power play tallies, just under ten minutes apart, but both scripted almost identically. In both instances, it was André Petersson as the architect, finding Axelsson left parked at the side of Francouz, tapping in two easy goals into a wide open cage. The only real difference was the first was part of a tic-tac-toe passing play with Linus Omark beginning the proceedings, while the second goal was a give-and-go between Axelsson and Petersson. The Czechs’ penalty trouble in the third was the death knell for the game, and Sweden walked away with the hard-fought 5-3 victory.
With the win, Sweden retains the International Hockey Lineal Championship, their record 75th title, which they won from Canada in the Gold Medal Game of the 2017 World Championships this past May, retaining in their first defense of the IHLC. This meeting was the 87th IHLC tilt between these nations all-time, and the first since a Swedish shootout victory in Prague to open the 2015 World Championships; the win improved Sweden’s record against the Czechs for the IHLC to 40-38-9 all-time. Tre Kronor now will head to Helsinki to rejoin the full Karjala pool, first facing Canada on Friday for the IHLC.
11:34 – PEN – Cehlin, kneeing
12:55 – PP GOAL – Nakládal (Nestrašil, Radil)
14:45 – GOAL – Everberg (Ahnelöv, Lander)
21:55 – GOAL – Birner (Řepík, Kundrátek)
29:53 – GOAL – Möller (Lindström)
30:52 – PEN – Gulaš, interference
32:07 – PP GOAL – Lindström (Kronwall)
34:55 – PEN – team, too many players
35:22 – PP GOAL – Radil (Nestrašil, Nakládal)
46:49 – PEN – Mozík, interference
48:26 – PP GOAL – Axelsson (Petersson, Omark)
54:45 – PEN – Kovář, tripping
56:31 – PEN – Šmíd, delay of game
57:42 – PP GOAL – Axelsson (Petersson)
W: Enroth (20-23)
L: Francouz (19-24)
SHOTS ON GOAL
5+13+6 = 24
13+5+5 = 23
Goaltenders: Jhonas Enroth, Magnus Hellberg. Defence: Jonas Ahnelöv, Johan Fransson, Erik Gustafsson (A), Patrik Hersley, Marcus Högström, Staffan Kronwall (C), Magnus Nygren. Forwards: Joakim Andersson, Rasmus Asplund, Dick Axelsson, Patrick Cehlin, Dennis Everberg, Anton Lander, Pär Lindholm, Joakim Lindström, Oscar Möller, John Norman, Linus Omark (A), André Petersson, Johan Ryno.
Goaltenders: Pavel Francouz, Marek Mazanec. Defence: Jakub Krejčík, Tomáš Kundrátek, Michal Moravčík, Vojtěch Mozík, Jakub Nakládal (C), Ladislav Šmíd, Libor Šulák, Ondřej Vitásek. Forwards: Michal Birner, Milan Gulaš, Roman Horák, Jakub Klepiš (A), Jan Kovář (A), Dominik Kubalík, Jakub Lev, Tomáš Mertl, Andrej Nestrašil, Lukáš Radil, Michal Řepík, Jiří Sekáč, Martin Zaťovič.