by Lisa Brown on 12/29/11 at 12:30 AM ET
Things have been going Sweden’s way early in the 2012 IIHF World Juniors Tournament. The team upset team Canada 5-3 in pre-tournament competition, eventually overcame Latvia to win 9-3 on Monday, and today has beat Switzerland 4-3 in the shootout.
It was another sunny day with temperatures above freezing. So once again Sweden played soccer outside.
Oiler prospect Oscar Klefbom is in the tall grey toque.
The talent on Team Sweden is certainly impressive, even players such as Anaheim Duck’s prospect Max Friberg who wasn’t selected until the fifth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft has been turning heads. Frieberg’s 5 goals at this tournament make him the overall leader. And Frieberg has only played two games.
Max Friberg opened the scoring with his fifth of the tournament on Sweden’s first power play in the first period on a Joel Vermin hooking penalty. Both teams battled, but it was Sweden who seemed to have the jump on Switzerland. Every pass Switzerland would attempt in the neutral zone was quickly and easily converted to the Swedish possession. Shots on goal were 17 to 8 for Sweden.
The second period saw Switzerland’s best opportunities to come back. Switzerland took back to back penalties that overlapped by 13 seconds, and in the second Swiss power play, Joel Vermin found the back of the net.
A second power play goal of the game was scored by Joakim Nordstrom, giving Sweden their second lead of the game.
While the emphasis had been placed on the penalties Sweden was taking, Switzerland’s seemed to be overlooked. Before Sweden would score their third power play goal of the game, Sweden would take three penalties and Switzerland would have three of their own.
Team Switzerland’s coach must have said something inspirational to not only spur his team to come from behind in the third period, but nearly take the lead. Ludvig Rensfeldt of Sweden would give his team a seemingly comfortable 3-1 lead, but Switzerland kept shooting unwilling to go down without a fight.
Joel Vermin scored his second goal of the game for Switzerland bringing the Swedish lead to one goal. The 14 782 people in attendance began their “Go Swiss Go” chant, in an attempt to inspire the team. As the building reverberated with the call, Switzerland astoundingly scored a trying goal on the power play.
Neither team could break the tie in the dying minutes of the third period, or overtime.
In the shootout, all was decided. Sweden scored with both of their first shooters; Sebastien Collberg and Max Friberg, while Joel Vermin and Christoph Bertschy were denied for Team Switzerland.
This is Sweden’s second win of the tournament, and Slovakia’s second loss, their first being to the Russians.
Sweden’s head coach Roger Ronnberg was pleased his team found the win; he knew that this would be a challenge. “We knew they would and we were warned about them.So we knew that they would come after us. But I think that we played good the firt 30 minutes of the game. The problem we had was in the second when we started to draw penalties. We gave them a chance to get back in the game. Before that I think that we played really good.”
Specifically, Ronnberg feels his team needs to take more shots on the power play.
“Our biggest problem now is that we draw too many penalties. That’s our problem” Ronnberg also has thoughts on improving his team’s power play. “We need to shoot the puck more.” I asked if he felt his players were looking for the pretty shot instead of the one right in front how them. “I don’t know why they don’t shoot the puck but we have to figure it out before the next game.” He elaborated “We stop to shoot the puck in this game. We have to look at the effort. The last were plays we had, we stopped to shoot the puck. We have to continue to shoot.”
Following Friberg’s shootout goal, you may have heard some Swedish boos. It seems that as Friberg was going in for high fives with his team, and rode his stick along the Swiss boards, to which the team responded with boos. “He’s a humble kid” Ronnberg explained “I don’t think he did it to offend someone.”
Friberg commented on the shootout goal celebration “It was just something that came up in my mind. It was nothing against the other team. I was very impressed by their game. I was just happy and I had no teammates to celebrate, so I had to do something.” Friberg earned some laughs from the crowd, “I watch a lot of video clips on youtube so I’d seen it a couple times. I thought they would like it but they booed instead.”
Oilers prospect Oscar Klefbom plays penalty kill and not power play usually. In this game, Klefbom had a single shift on the power play, and only because he happened to be out on the ice. This is where Kelfbom feels he complement well with defensive partner Jonas Brodin. “Yeah I think we do. I’ve played with him lot of years. So we are good friends and I think that we complement good. I have a little bit bigger stronger game than he does, but he’s a little bit more of a technical player than I am.”
The 14 782 fans in attendance were treated to an excellent hockey game on day three of competition. Joel Vermin, undrafted Swiss winger Joel Vermin may have been a pest to the Swedes, but he made an impression on a number of hockey fans in the crowd.
Team Sweden is definitely one of the highest profile teams in Pool B, and the reasons of course are the number of NHL drafted players, and the Swedish hockey leagues.
Both teams will have Thursday off. Sweden will play Slovakia on Friday, and Switzerland will play Latvia.
Harvey the Hound has traded in his Flames Jersey for a Team Canada one
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