International Ice Hockey Federation

Sweden wins bronze

Nilsson spoils Jagr's farewell party

Published 25.05.2014 20:21 GMT+3 | Author Andy Potts
Sweden wins bronze
MINSK, BELARUS - MAY 25: Sweden's Joel Lundqvist #20 hoists the trophy after a 3-0 victory over Team Czech Republic during bronze medal round action at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images)
A 3-0 win for the Tre Kronor sees the defending champion end the 2014 edition with another podium finish; the Czechs miss out after firing blanks once again.

Sweden won the bronze medals at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship thanks to a 3-0 victory over the Czech Republic.

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And the game also brought down the curtain on Czech legend Jaromir Jagr's international hockey career.

Following his country's fourth-placed finish the 42-year-old veteran of one Olympic gold and two World Championship triumphs announced that he would not play for the Czechs next season, even though the Worlds will be held in Prague.

"That was my last game for the Czech Republic," he said after his team's defeat. "I'll be back to play in the NHL next year, but I won't play for my country again."

On the ice Sweden earned its second victory over the Czechs in the tournament, but the margin this time was far more comfortable than the group stage encounter between the countries, which went to a shoot-out before Joakim Lindstrom got the decisive score to complete Sweden's recovery from 1-3 in that game.

But the scoreline did not entirely do justice to the Czechs here; better fortune around Anders Nilsson's goal might have given them a way back into the game even after giving up two first period goals.

Lindstrom, who was also on the mark tonight, albeit more fortuitously than in that shoot-out, was full of praise for his goalie.

"He’s been phenomenal, not just tonight, but the whole tournament. From Game One, he’s been our backbone on this hockey team. He’s played really well," said the forward.

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"I think throughout the whole tournament we’ve had some penalty trouble. We’ve been taking too many penalties. But Anders bailed us out tonight. He played great. He’s a very good goaltender."

Czech forward Roman Cervenka was at a loss to understand how his team had failed to score. "I just don't know how that puck stayed out of the net," he said. "We kept getting our shots away but we couldn't get one in.

"It was a fairly even game, I think maybe we even had more chances than them."

It was Lindstrom who opened the scoring as the Swedes took charge of the scoreboard in the first period. He claimed the fifth minute opener after he got to the goaline and dragged the puck back towards Oscar Moller in the slot. It never got there, however: Petr Zamorsky ended up deflecting the puck past his own goalie.

Moller later admitted that he never touched that one, but was nonetheless delighted with his first taste of World Championship hockey in this competition.

"It feels like a successful tournament even though we lost in the semi-final," he said. "We're going home with medals so we're really happy about that."

The Czechs had a great chance to tie it up on the power play moments later when Jakub Klepis saw his shot from the blue line rebound to Jaromir Jagr, but the veteran put his shot wide - an early indication that it wasn't going to be a great night in front of goal for the men in the red, white and blue jerseys.

Sweden extended its lead with a well-worked 16th-minute goal from Simon Hjalmarsson. He fired in a one-timer from a tight angle to wrap up a tic-tac-toe move involving Mattias Ekholm and Nicklas Danielsson.

That two-goal advantage belied the enterprise that the Czechs had shown around Nilsson's net. The Swedish goalie had been the busier of the two, but the Czech goal supply stopped abruptly after two periods of its quarter-final against team USA. At the second intermission on Thursday Vladimir Ruzicka's men led 4-1; a 0-3 reverse against against Finland and three blank periods in the bronze medal game stretched the goalless run to more than 140 minutes.

That wasn't for want of trying. The Czechs carved out enough presentable chances to win this game - and probably another one besides. But a combination of poor finishing and rotten luck for the Czechs, plus good goalkeeping from Nilsson, keep the Swedish goal intact even as he team ran into penalty trouble in the second period.

Even the great Jagr wasn't immune to the malaise that afflicted his team around the net: twice in the second session he spurned sharp but genuine chances, firing wide from half a metre out before putting another one straight at Nilsson.

When Nilsson - who eventually made 29 saves - was beaten the post came to his rescue. Vladimir Sobotka whipped a smart shot past the goalie's blocker only to clip the outside of the goalframe, then Michal Vondrka also suffered the unwelcome thump of rubber on metal as the second period entered its closing moments.

Finally Czech frustration told and the team began to stumble into penalty trouble, dissipating the momentum that had been built up over the second period.

Sweden's Gustav Nyquist almost capitalised, showing great hands to get close in on Alexander Salak only for the goalie to recover with a find glove save.

But that was a short-lived reprieve: another Czech attack came to nothing and a big rebound turned the puck over to the Swedes. Erik Gustafsson orchestrated a lightning counter, prodding a backhand pass from centre ice to Mikael Backlund who put it upstairs from just beyond the face-off spot.

That finally broke the Czechs' spirit, and it took some brave goaltending from Salak to deny Backlund and Nicklas Danielsson in the closing moments as the Swedes collected another set of World Championship medals.

A bronze medal game is often an occasion for sharply polarised emotions for winners and users alike. Victory is tinged with the disappointment of missing the final; defeat is unambiguously hard to swallow.

Sweden's Linus Klasen described as a "more-than-OK" tournament despite yesterday's defeat against Russia. But for Cervenka the old maxim that "fourth is the most painful position" held all too true.


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