VIERUMÄKI, Finland – The Swedish women’s national team provided the biggest upset at the IIHF Twelve Nations Invitational Tournament Series in Vierumäki, Finland, defeating Team Canada 6-4.
Canada holds a 14-0 record in games against Sweden in Women’s World Championships and Olympic women’s ice hockey tournaments, but suffered their second defeat in history against Sweden in an international game between the senior women’s national teams from both countries.
Sweden has been the only nation so far to defeat a North American team in an official women’s hockey game. They did so in the semi-finals of the 2006 Olympics in Turin when they edged the United States 3-2 in a shoot-out to eventually claim the silver medal. It was the Swedish “mirakel” and the first gold medal game involving a team from outside North America in four Olympic Winter Games with women’s ice hockey as a discipline.
Sweden’s only win against Canada before the game on Wednesday happened at the 2008 Four Nations Tournament in Lake Placid, USA, when Sweden won 2-1 in overtime. Yesterday, the “Damkronora” were able to defeat the Canadians in regulation.
The game featured a stellar performance by long-time starting goalkeeper Kim Martin. The 25-year-old Stockholm native, who plays for the University of Minnesota-Duluth, held the fort as Canada outshot Sweden 53-27. She was also between the pipes in the 2008 win against Canada and the 2006 upset of Team USA at the Olympics.
Both teams travelled to Vierumäki with a mix of veterans and fresh faces. Canada had 11 players from the 2011 IIHF World Women’s Championship back on the team, Sweden 13.
Same as in Lake Placid it was an intense tournament with little time to breathe. It was the sixth game in a week for both teams when they took to the ice.
Although Canada opened the scoring 11 seconds into the game with a goal from Mallory Deluce, the Swedes bounced back fast. Michelle Löwenhielm tied the game two minutes later, and in the second period the Swedes capitalized on a 5-on-3 with goals from Frida Nevalainen and Elin Holmlöv. At 8:18 Anna Borgqvist made the incredible 4-1 score appear on the scoreboard, but Meghan Agosta netted two Canadian goals before the second intermission.
Gizela Blom opened the third period scoring at 4:07, and although Agosta completed her hat trick with the 5-4 goal one minute later, the Canadians were not able stage a comeback. Pernilla Winberg made it 6-4 at 17:23, even before Canadian coach Dan Church was able to pull the goalie.
With yesterday’s game, the tournament has come to an end for most teams, and Canadian forward Jayna Hefford gave some praise to this IIHF initiative that should give teams more international games in order to make the gap between the countries in women’s hockey smaller.
“From a development point of view, I was really impressed by Finland and Sweden this week. They didn’t sit back and trap like sometimes they’ve done in the past,” Hefford told the Associated Press
“We’d like to see Switzerland and Russia push more because we know they have strong federations behind them, but Sweden and Finland are definitely coming on.”
The Vierumäki event will end with a pair of games between host Finland and Sweden on Friday and Saturday.
While the eight top nations were playing in Vierumäki, the other four teams of the tournament series held a round-robin event in Courchevel, France. Germany won thanks to an overtime victory in its last game against Norway. The Czech Republic finished third while France remained winless.
IIHF.com will look back at the first two events of the IIHF Twelve Nations Invitational Tournament Series after the last games.
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