Sweden started their World Championship with a huge win over Germany. Oscar Lindberg’s power play goal early in the third period separated the two teams, and Lars Johansson marked his World Championship debut with a shutout to seal the win.
It was a big night for two Swedes. Forward Leo Karlsson, 18 years, 136 days, became Tre Croner’s youngest World Championship player. At the other end, Johansson is the oldest goalie to make his World Championship debut for Sweden at 35 years, 305 days. The veteran did it in style, stopping 19 shots to give his team the verdict.
„He’s great,” said goaltender Lindbergh. „He’s been great for us all season. He’s very calm out there, talks to us a lot and helps us out. So having a good goalie in there is huge.”
Johansson is by no means unfamiliar with international sport: she was on the Swedish team at last year’s Beijing Olympics. So, Jacob de la Rose poked the stick of Maximilian Kastner, Daniel Fischbuch forced the puck off in front of the net and Fabio Wagner’s final shot was comfortable. Goli to gather.
That set the tone for the first period. Germany had the better of the game and saw no clear opportunity to test the veteran 'rookie’ in Tampere.
The failure to force a breakthrough frustrated Dominic Cahun. „I thought we had enough chances to take the lead, especially in the first period,” he said. “Our goalie played unbelievable today, he gave us a chance to win the game and unfortunately we didn’t take it.
„We had some power plays as well, but we didn’t score goals and that was the difference.”
Sweden’s Alexander Nylander had some sympathy for Germany’s disappointment. „They started well,” he admitted. „They were better than us in the first period. They came out hard, they’re a good team.”
German goalie Matthias Niederberger was called into action midway through the opening session after a De La Rose try.
The middle frame also began in a similar vein. Gradually, however, Sweden began to pick up the pace. Andre Pietersen, another making his World Championship debut for Sam Hallam’s side, finally found a shot with venom and then Bar Lindholm produced another fizzer that pushed Niederberger into more efforts.
„But at the end of each period we started playing better,” Nylander added. „We had a really good 10 minutes to go in the second and we played a tight game in the third.”
A power play for Germany saw Jan Peterka break the deadlock midway through the session, but Jakob Silfverberg got back and lowered his stick to cut out a dangerous feed to the back door.
At full strength, the Swedish attack continued to create menacing rumbles towards the German net. A couple of close looks saw Pietersen and Lucas Raymond go close, but the game remained goalless for 40 minutes.
He played a major role in Sweden’s long-awaited engineering of Sweden. Tre Kronor started the final stanza of the power play and the HV71 forward disrupted the German defense. Emerging from behind the net, he set up Jonathon Bergroon in the right-hand circle and the forward’s shot was expertly headed inside Niederberger’s near post by Oscar Lindberg.
„It was a power play and we were out there for a while,” Lindberg said. „We got a shot and I tried to get a screen. It hit my stick and went into the net. So it’s a good feeling.”
Sweden closed out the win with relatively little drama until Alexander Nylander’s needless O-Zone high sticking penalty gave Germany a way through. Dominic Cahun forced Johansson into a smart bat save on the power play. However, Kai Wissmann took a tripping call – largely to the disapproval of the pro-German crowd – that cut the chance short.
Johansson had one more crucial stop after a Moritz Seider blast in the 59th minute before the Germans leveled Niederberger in the last minute. With the extra skater, Germany moved the puck nicely, but it was difficult to pick a path through the well-set Swedish defense.
With victory assured, Nylander knew what Sweden needed to improve on as the tournament progressed. „We have to be ready for teams like this,” he said. „We have to play simple and fast hockey here, and when it goes a little slow, we get caught.”
„Całkowity introwertyk. Nieprzejednany specjalista od sieci. Przyjazny fanatyk bekonu. Student ekstremalnych. Miłośnik piwa. Organizator.”