Monday, August 8, 2011

Swedes use PP to topple Canada in Ivan Hlinka opener

The opening game in Břeclav at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament was a chippy affair between Sweden and Canada. There were lots of penalties, making specialty teams the dominant story. Sweden scored four times with the man advantage, while Canada did so only once, and Sweden won the game 5-1.

The Swedes won the battle of the specialty teams and that was in large part due to the enormous presence of the Swedish captain Filip Forsberg. While he’s not related to the more famous Forsberg, he seems an equally imposing figure, and some of the Swedish fans in attendance were even chanting the nickname “Foppa”, as Peter Forsberg was called.

With Sweden ahead 1-0, Forsberg wired a slapshot by Canadian goaltender Daniel Altshuller to make the score 2-0. Though it was his only point of the night, he provided valuable fore-checking on a Swedish power plan that cashed in twice more in the second to make it 4-0. Leading the point parade with 3 was Sebastian Collberg, who is currently ranked 18th among prospects for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, with a goal and 2 assists. 

The Canadians needed desperately to get back into the game with a power-play goal of their own, and got the chance late in the second. They put on good sustained pressure for the first time all game, but that ended when Forsberg picked up a loose puck and pushed away a Canadian checker like he was made of cardboard.  He went in on goal with helpless Canadian backcheckers unable to do a thing. Though Altshuller managed to stop him, he paid for it, with the giant Swede crashing into the goaltender and shaking him up.

Canada finally got on the board in the third period period, naturally on the power play, when Charles Hudon sent a shot off the post and in. Late in the third, Sweden took two major penalties 22 seconds apart. First Amil Krupic was sent to the showers for checking Andreas Athanasiou to the head, and then Elias Lindholm followed him for steamrolling Altshuller behind the Canadian goal. The Swedes were reduced to three skaters for the final five minutes of regulation time, but Canada was unable to capitalize. In the final minute, Swedish defenceman Jesper Pettersson scored the game’s only non-power-play goal, a short-handed empty-netter which he fired from his own zone.

“That’s something we’ve got to work on," Canada’s Griffin Reinhart said about the special teams. "If we’re going to get into games where we’re taking 10-plus penalties, we’ve gotta make sure the PK is strong and we bury our chances on the power play.“

The second game of the group involves the host Czechs against Switzerland, starting at 19:00 CET. Live updates for all games can be found at

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