Home ice advantage finally paid off for the Swedish national hockey team.
Playing host to the International Hockey Federation 2013 World Championships, the Tre Kronor overcame a slow start to defeat Switzerland 5-1 May 19 at the Globe Arena in Stockholm to claim its first title since 2006.
Sweden is the first host nation in 27 years to win an IHF World Championship. The Soviet Union was the last team to accomplish the feat, winning in 1986 in Moscow.
Vancouver Canucks stars and twin brothers Henrik and Daniel Sedin set the pace for Tre Kronor. The brothers joined the national team midway through the tournament after the Canucks lost in the first round of the NHL playoffs. Henrik compiled four goals and five assists while Daniel had a goal and five assists in four games.
The twin brothers had the most impact on Sweden's power play. After scoring just two power-play goals in their first seven games of the tournament, Sweden scored five in their final three games. Daniel assisted on four and Henrik on three.
"They showed they're two of the best players in the world," teammate Gabriel Landeskog said. "I can confidently say that, whether they won a [Stanley] Cup or not. Everyone was feeding off of them."
The young Swiss team came out aggressively in the final, opening the scoring in the fifth minute. Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi skated in from the blue line and backhanded the puck past Jonas Enroth, who plays for the Buffalo Sabres.
Sweden took over from there, scoring twice in the first period and using the edge to dominate the game.
"We were slow out of the gates, but after the second goal I felt we had control over the game," New Jersey Devil defenseman Henrik Tallinder said. "The Swiss haven't had many times they've been down, so we could play their game against them."
Switzerland dominated throughout the tournament, winning all nine of its games before the final.
"Right up until the end I thought it was a lot closer than it was," forward Ryan Gardner said. "The score's not indicative of how hard we've worked."
Linkoping center Simon Hjalmarsson, one of the few Elitserien players on the Tre Kronor roster, tied the game. Henrik Sedin put Sweden in front when he batted a shot out of the air and deflected it past Swiss goalie Martin Gerber for a power-play goal.
“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."
Philadelphia Flyer Erik Gustafsson and Dallas Star Loui Eriksson also scored for Sweden. Henrik Sedin picked up his second goal of the game when he scored into an empty net with time running out.
"It's an unbelievable feeling. You can't put it into words," New Jersey's Henrik Tallinder said. "As soon as we got our legs and got that first goal, I thought we controlled the game pretty well."
Henrik Sedin was just as happy.
"To play in front of your home fans in your country and be able to win, that doesn't happen often so that's pretty amazing," Henrik said. "I don't want to compare it to the NHL because I think it's different, but as far as national team, it's up there with an Olympic gold medal for sure."
The Swiss, coached by Canadian Sean Simpson of Brampton, Ont., were the surprise of the tournament. Unbeaten until the final, the country hadn't won a medal of any color in 60 years until Sunday.
"We're disappointed about the game," Simpson said. "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."
Buffalo Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth made 30 saves for the win. Gerber finished with 22.
Switzerland opened the tournament with a 3-2 upset of the Swedes, followed by a 3-2 shootout win over Canada and a 5-2 victory over the Czech Republic. The wins over what were considered the favorites in the pool gave the Swiss momentum on their run to the top in Stockholm.
Sweden finished third at 5-2 in the same pool behind Canada at (5-1-1-0). The Swedes eliminated Canada from medal contention with a 3-2 shootout quarter-final win.