by Chipp Reid

The finals of the 2009-2010 Elitserien came down to a battle of goaltenders between Stefan Liv of HV 71 and Gustaf Wesslau of Djurgården.
Liv, a savvy 29-year-old veteran, won the battle against the 25-year-old Wesslau as HV 71 beat DIF in six games to win the Swedish hockey championship. Liv, a former prospect of the Detroit Red Wings, got help in overtime in the title-clinching Game 6 as Djurgården twice came close to grabbing a winner in the extra session only to see the puck carom off the post and crossbar.
HV 71 went into Game 6 on a high after mounting a three-goal comeback in Game 5 against Djurgården at home in Jönköping. It was the fourth of what would be five consecutive overtime games as the two teams played neck and neck throughout the series. The five overtime games are an Elitserien final series record.
“It is a pity that you do not hand out two gold medals for Djurgården gave us really a match,” Liv said. “It has been so good and exciting as a series finale should be.”
The Game 5 loss put Djurgården, playing in its first final in 10 years, in a must-win position. DIF fired seven shots at Liv in the first period, but the HV 71 net minder turned them all aside. Wesslau was just as sharp in the Djurgården goal, steering aside nine shots.
As tight as the play was in the first period, it only took DIF four minutes in the second to grab a lead. Andreas Holmqvist scored on a power play at 4:24 of the second to give Djurgården a 1-0 lead. HV 71 needed just 25 seconds to tie the game as defenseman Pasi Puistola scored off assists from David Petrasek and Teemu Laine. All three are top prospects for the NHL draft in June.
Petrasek put HV 71 in front at 1:27 of the third period with his fifth goal of the playoffs. The lead lasted 15 minutes as DIF mounted a desperate effort to equalize. Djurgården fired 11 shots at Liv before Kristoffer Ottosson finally beat the HV goalie at 16:05 to knot the game at 2-2.
When the two teams went into overtime for the record fifth time, Djurgården winger Andreas Engqvist nearly stole the show. He beat Liv twice in the first minute of the extra session only to see the puck rebound off the post and crossbar.
The near-misses were all HV 71 needed. Laine scored the game-winner at 4:19 of overtime to send the Blue Bulls to their second Swedish crown in three years.
“Its fantastic just fantastic,” Liv said. “This one I think is even bigger than winning two years ago because of how tight the series was. It is just fantastic.”
For Engqvist, the summer would be a time of “what if.”
“I think those two shots will stay with me for a long time,” he said. “We had a great season and hopefully this is something we can build on in the future. Right now, though, it hurts to be so close and come away with nothing.”
The overtime win in Game 6 came two days after HV 71 overcame a three-goal deficit in Game 5 as the new champions again won in overtime.
Jacob Josefson put Djurgården up 1-0 in the first period. Ottosson and Jimmie Ölvestad made it 3-0 in the second when they scored 36 seconds apart. That seemed to wake up HV 71, which got second-period netters from David Ullström, Jukka Voutilainen on the power play and Laine, who scored short-handed with 26 seconds left in the period.
Djurgården recoved in the third period and retook the lead at 13:37 when Holmqvist beat Liv for the go-ahead goal.. The lead was short-lived. Oscar Sundh beat Wesslau on a power play with 2:59 left to play to send the game into overtime.
HV 71 needed just three minutes of overtime to move closer to the gold as Martin Thörnberg punched in the game-winner at 3:02 and gave HV a 3-2 advantage.
Djurgården won Game 4 in overtime when Marcus Kruger beat Liv with one second remaining in the first overtime period. HV 71 took Game 3, also in overtime, when Joukka Voultinainen tallied at 17:51 of the extra session. Voultinainen assisted on the game winner in Game 2 when set up Johan Davidsson at 8:04 of overtime to give HV 71 a 4-3 win.
Djurgården won the opener 4-3 in regulation time.
All eyes in Swedish hockey are now on the NHL Entry Draft in June, where more than 50 Elitserien players have a chance of moving across the Atlantic.