International Ice Hockey Federation

WW Top 25 Stories: #11

WW Top 25 Stories: #11

15-year-old Martin leads Sweden to bronze

Published 25.03.2015 21:30 GMT+1 | Author Andrew Podnieks
WW Top 25 Stories: #11
Change of the guards: Swedish teenage goalie Kim Martin (left) replaced Annica Ahlen (right) during the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and led her team to a bronze medal. Clive Mason / Getty Images
21 February 2002. Kim Martin may have saved women’s hockey in Sweden, although that’s an enormous responsibility to give, even in retrospect, to a teenager.

But the truth is, the women’s program was floundering in the first decade of IIHF play. In the four Women’s World Championships before Nagano, the Swedes finished 4th, 4th, 5th, and 5th.

In Nagano, the team finished 5th, and in the three years after it placed 4th, 4th, and 5th. All of those 4th-place finishes represented losses (usually to Sweden) in the bronze-medal game, and by the time the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City were at hand, the team looked no better or worse than previous years. It seemed like “4th” or “5th” would appear besides the country’s name yet again.

The pessimism was so great within the Swedish Ice Hockey Association that it considered not sending a team to Salt Lake for women’s hockey. But coach Christian Yngve managed to get his players to the Olympics, and that’s when little, blonde, 15-year-old Kim Martin took over.

Annica Ahlen started the team’s first game in the net, a 3-2 win over Russia, and Martin made her Olympics debut two days later, recording a shutout in an easy 7-0 win over Kazakhstan. The goalies then each played one of the big teams. Ahlen was peppered with 70 shots against Canada and gave up all eleven goals in an 11-0 loss, but Martin was excellent against the Americans, stopping 28 of 32 shots in a much closer 4-0 defeat.

For coach Yngve, the choice was clear – Martin would start the bronze-medal game against the Finns. It was a wise decision as Finland was the better team in every aspect of that game – except goaltending. The Swedes were outshot 33-20, but Martin was sensational and Finland suffered a shocking 2-1 loss.

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It was Sweden’s first medal in the 12 years of women’s hockey at the IIHF, but more important it paved the way for a much bigger win four years later, in Turin. Martin was in net for the historic win against the USA, and many of her teammates from Salt Lake also developed and became key elements to that later win – including Maria Rooth, Gunilla Andersson, Erika Holst, and Danijela Rundqvist – which gave them a silver medal.

Martin had played two games at the 2001 Women’s Worlds, one as a starter, a win, and one in relief. Now, as Malmo approaches, she is a veteran on her Sweden team. She has played in four Olympics and seven Women’s Worlds, and the 29-year-old hopes to add another medal on home ice at the 2015 Worlds to her trophy case.

But when she reflects on her career, it all started in Salt Lake, against arch-rivals Finland, when she took a team that wasn’t even going to be there to a bronze medal they surely weren’t supposed to win.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of women's hockey in the IIHF, writer Andrew Podnieks is counting down the top 25 stories in women's international hockey history. One story each day will appear until the Number 1 story is unveiled the morning of the gold-medal game of the 2015 Women's Worlds in Malmo, Sweden, on April 4.

Earlier Top 25 Stories:
#12: Angela James cut prior to Nagano
#13: Amanda Kessel misses 2014/15 with concussion
#14: IIHF removes body-checking from women’s hockey
#15: Jenni Hiirikoski becomes first Euro two-timer
#16: Former NHLer Yashin leads Russian women to bronze
#17: Cammi Granato cut before Turin
#18: Visitors win twice in North American finals
#19: IIHF makes Women’s Worlds official for 1990
#20: Rogge issues challenge to women’s hockey
#21: IIHF goes to all-women officials
#22: Shannon Miller recruits Euros for NCAA
#23: IIHF introduces junior event for women
#24: Zorn a goalie and skater both
#25: Russia-Switzerland a dandy display in 2011


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