LINKOPING - Skellefteå completed one of the biggest upsets in recent Swedish playoff history by defeating heavily favoured Linköping 3-2 in Game 7 on Monday. Kimmo Koskenkorva scored the OT-decider early in the third overtime to end the third longest playoff game in Swedish history.
As opposed to other top European leagues, the Swedish Elitserien has avoided major first-round upsets in recent years. Commonly, the top four teams from the regular season make it to the semi-finals.
This season became an exception as second-place Linköpings HC lost in the first round to sixth-ranked Skellefteå AIK in a seven-game marathon which ended after 4 hours and 13 minutes on Monday night.
The 7,700 fans at Linköping’s Cloetta Center were consumed by the drama and as the clock was slowly approaching midnight the visiting Skellefteå scored the game winner 2:01 into the third overtime.
Despite being outshot 54-25, Skellefteå scored on the only shot that was registered in the sixth period. Forward Christian Söderström jumped on a turn-over created by Linköping’s blueliner Andreas Pihl and seconds later he passed to Kimmo Koskenkorva who one-timed the shot past goaltender Mika Noronen.
Linköping, which was in the playoff finals in the last two seasons and was one of Sweden’s two teams in the Champions Hockey League, is now on summer vacation, while Skellefteå is eying the next upset. The team from the very north of Sweden will take on regular season winner Färjestad in the semi-finals. Frölunda Gothenburg faces regional rival HV71 Jönköping in the other series.
Both semi-final series open on Thursday, March 19.
Since the Swedish league adopted the playoff and overtime system in 1976, only two games have gone on longer than Monday’s drama. The longest game was between Leksand and Färjestad in 1997 when 59:16 of overtime was needed for Andreas Karlsson to win the semi-final game for Leksand.
In 2003, Timrå and Luleå skated through 52:17 extra minutes in the quarterfinals.
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