Staff and wire reports STOCKHOLM, Sweden – It took two years, but Sweden finally won an international hockey tournament.
Using a team of stars from the Elitserien and relishing in the magic of home ice, Sweden topped Finland 4-0 Feb. 8 to win the LG Hockey Games, part of the annual Euro Hockey Tour.
"It's a great feeling to win all three games," said Sweden coach Bengt-Åke Gustafsson, who led Sweden to Olympic and world championship titles in 2006. "This is the most important (Euro Hockey Tour) event for us. We really wanted to win on home ice."
The Tre Kronor won the Olympics and World Cup in 2006 with a team of mostly stars from the National Hockey League. Teams of just players from the Elitserien haven’t been quite as successful, although they turned it around in the third leg of the annual Euro Hockey Tour.
Former Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Johan Holmqvist stopped 37 shots for his first shutout of the tournament to lead Sweden to the win. Holmqvist returned to the Elitserien this season after Tampa cut him last season.
Magnus Johansson, another NHL veteran now back in Sweden, scored in his 150th game for the national team, and Tony Martensson, Linus Omark and Daniel Widing added goals before a crowd of 12,243 at the Ericsson Globe Arena.
Sweden finished with a perfect 3-0 record and nine points atop the standings. Two-time defending Euro Hockey Tour champion Russia, which beat Czech Republic 6-3 earlier, finished second with five points. Finland was third with four.
Johansson one-timed a slapshot from the point to give Sweden a 1-0 lead halfway through the game. Martensson made it 2-0 from a tough angle early in the third period, the puck bouncing off a Finnish defenseman's skate and into the net.
Omark picked up a pass from Holmqvist and scored an empty-netter with two minutes left of the game after Finland pulled its goalie for an extra attacker. Widing roofed a wrist shot into the net 47 seconds later after breaking away all alone.
The victory over arch-rival Finland came a day after Sweden beat the Czech Republic 6-4, setting up the showdown between the Nordic neighbors. Sweden went into the final game needing just a point to win the tournament while Finland, which blew a 4-0 lead and lost to Russia 5-4 in a penalty shootout, had to win to claim the LG title.
Center Rickard Wallin's line combined for six points to lead the Tre Kronor past the Czechs. Wallin paced Sweden with two goals in front of a near-sellout crowd of 10,422 at the Globe. Linemate Christian Berglund scored once and Niklas Nordgren, the other winger on Wallin's line, had three assists.
Wallin put Sweden ahead in the opening period and made it 4-2 with a short-handed goal late in the second frame, roofing a one-timer from close range.
"It was fun to contribute," said Wallin, who was named the game MVP for Sweden.
Veteran defenseman Kenny Jönsson, a two-time Olympic champion, world champion and a former National Hockey League player, Linus Omark and Johan Harju also scored for Sweden.
Harju scored into an empty net with 20 seconds left after the Czechs' late gamble of pulling the goalie for an extra skater did not pay off.
"They showed a lot of heart at the end of the game," Gustafsson said.
The LG Hockey Games was the third leg of the Euro Hockey Tour, which Russia leads overall before the last tournament April 16-19 in the Czech Republic.