IT’S A NICE WIN-BERG FOR BRONZE-BOUND SWEDES
With a 4-0 win over Switzerland on April 9 in front of Winnipeg in front of 3,761 spectators, Sweden earned itself a berth in the bronze medal game. Pernilla Winberg led the Swedes with a pair of goals and an assist, and Maria Rooth also scored.
The Swedes will face the winner of the Canada-Finland game (unless the game goes to overtime, in which case Canada would advance regardless of who wins, due to having a superior points total) at 3:30 p.m. at the MTS Centre on Tuesday.
This will be Sweden’s third straight appearance in the World Women’s third-place game and its seventh of all time. Tre Kronor’s only previous bronze medal in this tournament came on home ice in 2005.
Switzerland, meanwhile, finished in fifth place, equaling its best-ever result from 1990.
Goalie Sara Grahn got her second straight win and first shutout of the tournament for Sweden, stopping all 16 shots she faced. At the other end, Florence Schelling made 53 stops for Switzerland.
It took a while, but the Swedes ultimately established total territorial domination, and the Swiss couldn’t keep up with them.
The game was tightly played at the outset, apart from a chance near the five-minute mark that Switzerland’s Laura Ruhnke couldn’t convert on the doorstep. But as time wore on, the Swedes began using their superior skills to get around Swiss defenders in 1-on-1 situations.
At 15:45, Sweden opened the scoring, as defenceman Ann-Louise Edstrand waltzed in from the left side, put a backhand on Schelling, and got two cracks at the rebound before Pernilla Winberg finally swept it in.
The Swiss pressed around the Swedish net with under three minutes left in the opening period but couldn’t solve Grahn.
Early in the middle frame, the Swedes kept Switzerland bottled up in its own end during a power play, and narrowly failed to convert a 4-on-1 rush thanks to Schelling’s sharpness.
Maria Rooth stretched Sweden’s lead to 2-0 at 12:04 when she barreled out of the corner to the front of the net and slid the puck under Schelling.
In the second minute of play in the third period, Switzerland’s Silvia Bruggmann got a breakaway, and her shot went off Grahn’s glove and nearly trickled behind the goaltender. Grahn desperately tried to sweep the puck out of harm’s way, and Swedish defenceman Nanna Jansson put it along the goal line and off the inside of Grahn’s right post, but it amazingly didn’t go in.
Winberg put Sweden up 3-1 at 5:22 after taking arguably the best coast-to-coast breakaway pass of the tournament from Emma Eliasson, busting down the center and beating Schelling five-hole.
With 5:40 left in the game, Katarina Timglas got two cracks at Schelling and cashed in the rebound along the ice past the Swiss goalie’s left skate to round out the scoring.
Sweden’s Player of the Game was Winberg, and Schelling was honoured for Switzerland.
Sweden has now beaten Switzerland five times in official international play, and never lost. The last win was 7-1 at the 1997 Worlds in Kitchener, Ontario
Switzerland’s three best players of the tournament were named: Kathrin Lehmann, Christine Meier, and Florence Schelling.
Prior to the Switzerland-Sweden game, Manitoba Premier Gary Doer held a press conference at the MTS Centre to offer condolences to the families of the six Canadian soldiers who died Sunday in a roadside explosion in Afghanistan. More than 1,000 soldiers and their families from Shilo and 17th Wing military bases were provided with transportation and admission to two games at the 2007 IIHF World Women’s Championship as part of “Military Appreciation Day.”