Official Release: Silver for Diaz, Galchenyuk Grabs Bronze

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(AP Photo/LEHTIKUVA / Martti Kainulainen)

Alex Galchenyuk discusses winning the bronze medal at the IIHF World Hockey Championships (2:12). Video: IIHF/YouTube

 

IIHF Official Release – by Andrew Podnieks

Tre Kronor ends home-ice curse

Incredible Swiss fall, 5-1, settle for historic silver after nine wins

STOCKHOLM – Switzerland scored first, but hosts Sweden dominated the last 55 minutes to become the first home team to win gold since 1986. It is the nation’s ninth World Championship gold medal.

For the Swiss, it was their first loss of the tournament after nine straight wins and only their second silver medal ever after finishing runner-up in 1935, their highest finish at any IIHF international hockey event.

“We’re disappointed about the game,” said Switzerland coach Sean Simpson. “We lost it, and we won nine games before. Not many people believed before the tournament that we would play in a World Championship final. I’m very proud of the work our team has done and about the silver medal. Switzerland has to be proud of this team. This team is a role model with its willingness, character and energy. What we did for Swiss hockey is a sensation. To be so close to the world title is super. We’ll try it again.”

“We were able to match their intensity at the start,” said Swiss defenceman Philippe Furrer. “We had a lot of chances but couldn’t score, and they did.”

Henrik Sedin led the offence with two goals and an assist. Goalie Jhonas Enroth was excellent, stopping 26 of 27 shots. He was named IIHF Directorate Award winner as Best Goalie.

“It was a tight game,” Henrik Sedin said. “It could have gone either way, I felt. It was lucky we got our first two goals pretty quickly after their first one. After we scored our third, it felt pretty calm on the bench.”

“We had a really good start,” said goalie Martin Gerber. “We were confident, but then out of the blue they tied it up and then we had some penalties. We got lost for a while and had a hard time getting back on track.”

“It’s an unbelievable feeling. You can’t put it into words,” said Henrik Tallinder. “As soon as we got our legs and got that first goal, I thought we controlled the game pretty well.”

“To win the last game of the season and World Championship gold is amazing,” said Joel Lundqvist. “Switzerland was awesome the whole tournament. We didn’t start the way we wanted, but when we got the Sedins, they played great.”

The Swiss came out with determination and an effective forecheck and had the puck in Sweden’s end for most of the first five minutes, until they scored. It was the ninth time in ten games that they got the early lead.

Indeed, Switzerland had trailed for only 14:25 of play (5:39 vs Canada, 8:46 vs Slovenia) the entire tournament.

Roman Josi got things started at 4:45 when he eluded a lax check from Loui Eriksson at the blue line and cut in on goal, backhanding the puck along the ice past Enroth for the early 1-0 lead.

Sweden tied the game at 8:42 on the team’s first shot on goal. Erik Gustafsson found a rebound in front of a crowded crease and snapped a shot past Martin Gerber, who had lost sight of the puck. The game was on.

“I wasn’t sure where to go exactly,” said Gustafsson, “but the goal felt a little bit like a turning point. They caught us on our heels in the first ten minutes, but after we scored we were in the driver’s seat.”

The Swedes then went ahead at 11:38 on the power play, the most potent part of their game. Henrik Sedin batted the puck out of midair in the crease to give the home side a 2-1 lead.

The second period started out strategically as the Swedes went into their tight-checking system while the Swiss refused to be baited into gambling to create scoring chances.

But a power play for Switzerland midway through the period, its first of the game, resulted in renewed energy. Enroth made a great save off a one-timer in the slot by Ryan Gardner, but the Swiss kept pressing for the tying goal to no avail.

The Swiss had another excellent opportunity to tie the game early in the third courtesy of a Johan Fransson penalty, but their shooting was off and Enroth unflappable under pressure.

Soon enough, the Swedes broke the game open. Simon Hjalmarsson scored off a giveaway by Julien Vauclair at his blue line. Gabriel Landeskog took the puck to the net and Hjalmarsson jammed it in before Mathias Seger could check him.

Eriksson put the game away when a point shot went in off his skate. Video review decided there was no distinct kicking motion, so the goal stood.

Coach Sean Simpson pulled Gerber with three and a half minutes remaining, and a Sweden penalty gave the Swiss a two-man advantage. Henrik Sedin, however, scored into the empty net to seal the victory.

“To be honest,” said Landeskog, “I don’t think I even know right now what we’ve accomplished. We’re standing here talking about it, but we don’t know what we’re going through right now. Maybe in a few years down the road, or after our careers, we’ll be able to sit back and think about this. I didn’t think I’d be standing here at 20 years old with this gold medal around my neck.”

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IIHF Official Release – by John Sanful

Shootout win earns USA bronze

STOCKHOLM – Somewhere Andy Roach is smiling. Team USA earned its first bronze medal since 2004 with a 3-2 shootout win over Finland at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. John Gibson once again played well beyond his years in the medal winning game.

The USA last won bronze at the 2004 World Championship against Slovakia. In that game, the Americans won on a shootout. It is the 17th World Championship medal for the United States in its participating history in this tournament. It is their sixth bronze.

“It feels great. This is my fourth time playing for Team USA, and I hadn’t gotten a medal [until now],” said T.J. Oshie. “Obviously we wanted it to be gold, but that’s not going to take any excitement away from winning this.”

First period goals by Craig Smith, Paul Stastny and a game winning shootout goal by Alex Galchenyuk ensured the Americans would not leave Stockholm empty-handed.

The game started very different for the Americans today than last night’s semi-final match-up. They came out strong and took the play to Finland. Finnish goalie Antti Raanta was tested very early as the Americans used their opportunities to draw first blood.

Craig Smith scored when David Moss jumped to knock the puck down to the ice and Stastny picked up the loose puck and passed it to Smith for a backhand goal 58 seconds into the game. For Smith, it was his fourth goal of the tournament, all scored against the Finns.

“It’s tough. They wanted it, we wanted it,” said Ossi Väänänen. “We had a bad start, and there’s no excuse for that. We tried to be ready. It’s a challenge, though, for a game like this. But the USA was ready for the first period.”

The Americans playing with a sense of urgency made it hard for the Finns to unleash Petri Kontiola, Juhamatti Aaltonen and Janne Pesonen. The trio had combined for 14 goals and 34 points in the tournament coming into this game.

Stastny widened the lead at 15:58 with a one-timer in the slot off a little shovel pass from Smith. For Stastny it was his team leading seventh of the World Championship, this one coming on the power play. Jacob Trouba picked up an assist.

The Finns picked up the pace in the second period getting some quality chances on net. At 8:07 a point shot from Janne Jalasvaara was saved with Jarno Koskiranta on the doorstep. At 6:50 they continued to focus the action in the USA zone, around the net. With about two minutes remaining in the period, Kontiola send a shot through traffic that Gibson stopped.

Finland would work its way back when Lauri Korpikoski scored. The puck was heading out of the American zone when Väänänen met it at the blueline and sent a shot/pass that Korpikoski redirected to a wide open net. The goal came at 8:56. Kontiola picked up the secondary assist.

This awoke the Finnish fans in attendance as momentum shifted decidedly to Finland. Then at 9:38 Aaltonen finally got his best chance on the day. He broke through the defence and bore in on Gibson who somehow saved the puck and squeezed it between his pads.

Despite back-to-back games in less than 24 hours, the Americans looked fresh with a skated with an extra stride in their step to start but as the game wore on, especially the third period, they looked tired and the Finns elevated their attack.

Finland came all the way back when Mikael Granlund made a nifty deke move through an American defender to put the puck in front where Korpikoski scored his second of the period and the game.

Finland sustained the action in their opponents’ zone and forced overtime.

Teams traded chances through the overtime with the USA’s best chances coming early and Finland’s coming later. The 21-year-old Granlund was active throughout the third period and overtime making things happen and creating chances. A turnover by Team USA led to an opportunity just before the buzzer sounded for Kontiola.

“I think we took the game over in the second and third,” said Väänänen. “We played much better and scored two goals to even it up. After OT was scoreless, then we had the shootout. It’s like flipping a coin at that point.”

In the shootout, Janne Pesonen scored for Finland, which was matched on the last American shot by Galchenyuk. A big save by Gibson on Korpikoski brought it sudden death. A miss by Granlund set the stage for Galchenyuk who potted his second, this one securing the bronze for Team USA.

Despite being one game from the final, the tournament should still be considered a positive one for Team USA. They exceeded expectations with the run they’ve had; trounced a major rival and saw enough individual efforts from players including Smith, Stastny and Gibson to build on for the future. Matt Carle summed it up best:

“We’re a young team and we have a few guys who don’t have any pro experience coming into this. We got better as the tournament went along and got into a good position in our group. This is a good consolation.”