International Ice Hockey Federation

Sweden bounces back

Sweden bounces back

Grahm stays red-hot in victory over Swiss

Published 29.03.2015 15:49 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Sweden bounces back
MALMO, SWEDEN - MARCH 29: Switzerland's Phoebe Stanz #88 battles for position with Sweden's Maria Lindh #19 while Sara Grahn #1 looks on during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Sweden was seeking some vindication in its second game of the IIHF World Women’s Championship. The host nation came through with a 3-2 win over the Swiss.

It was a challenging situation. Not only had the Damkronorna dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to lowly Japan in in their opener, but they were also up against a Swiss team that had beaten them 4-3 in the 2014 Olympic bronze medal game. The latter was a particularly bitter defeat since Sweden blew a 2-0 lead.

So with Sunday's result, coach Leif Boork’s blue-and-yellow squad appears to be back on track. Only the best two teams from Group B will advance to the quarter-finals. This was an important step toward that goal.

"I think we played consistent with our tactics," said Boork. "We tried to focus on what we had to do. The players were calm and not stressed that we had lost [to Japan], and didn’t let that influence this game. That’s one of the problems we had previously."

Scoring leader Erika Grahm, Emilia Andersson, and Erica Uden Johansson tallied for the Swedes. Phoebe Stanz had a pair of late goals for Switzerland, while Julia Marty earned two assists.

Swedish starting goalie Sara Grahn rebounded nicely after allowing two goals in the shootout against Japan. She outplayed Florence Schelling, who was named Best Goalie, a tournament all-star, and tournament MVP at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Shots favoured Switzerland 26-21.

"We played our game," said Schellling. "We just let in three goals that we shouldn’t have allowed."

This was a relatively physical tilt, with multiple penalties assessed for illegal bodychecks. Sweden proved opportunistic, capitalizing on two of its four first-period shots.

At 6:24, Grahm put Sweden on the board with her team-high fourth goal of the tournament, cruising down the left side and unleashing a short side wrister that somehow slipped through Schelling.

"It was very important for us to come out and get the first goal," said Grahm.

With 1:53 left in the first period, Andersson made it 2-0 on the power play. Right off the faceoff in the Swiss zone, she pounced on the loose puck between the hash marks and zinged a perfect shot in off the post.

The Swedes picked up their pace in the middle frame, outshooting Switzerland 10-4. But they couldn’t increase their lead despite getting three power plays. Schelling had to be sharp to keep her side within two goals while killing off a delay-of-game minor.

With under two minutes left in the second, Grahn came up with two huge back-to-back saves on Swiss ace Stefanie Marty from in tight.

Uden Johansson gave Sweden an insurmountable lead when, off the rush, she one-timed home a beautiful centering pass from Lina Wester at 6:56 of the third period.

The Swedes flirted with danger as they ran into penalty trouble down the stretch.

"I feel like they were cheap calls," said Sweden's Pernilla Winberg. "But it’s important at the end of the game to keep ourselves on the ice, because we can’t take penalties then."

With a late two-man advantage, Switzerland pulled Schelling for a 6-on-3 edge in skaters. Stanz cut the deficit to 3-1 with 2:05 remaining, and she whacked in a rebound on another power play to bring her side within one with just two seconds left. But it was too late.

"We fought all game long, and we came back to make it 3-2 in the last seconds of the game," said Schelling. "That’s what counts, and that’s what we’re bringing into the next game [against Japan]."

Looking ahead to Sweden's third game against Germany, Winberg said: "They play really simple and help their goalie with the box in front of the net. We just have to follow our game plan, play simple, and shoot a lot."

A pre-game ceremony honoured former Swedish national team star Maria Rooth. The 35-year-old Angelholm native is best-known for scoring two goals in regulation time and adding the shootout winner in Sweden’s stunning 3-2 upset over the United States in the 2006 Olympic semi-final in Turin Italy.

This year, Rooth’s popular summer hockey school in Halmstad will celebrate its 10th anniversary. She will be inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame at the 2015 IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic.

Kim Martin Hasson, who shone in goal in the 2006 Olympic miracle, did not dress for this game. Instead, Valentina Wallner served as Grahn’s backup.


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