Home nation, Finland broke the North American dominance which has seen Canada and the USA fight out the last four world championships as well as the Pyeongchang Olympics when they beat Canada 4-2 in the semifinal on Saturday.
On Sunday they faced the USA on home ice in Espoo with nine players who play in SDHL on the ice, including seven players in the top two lines.
In a tightly fought game the only goals would be scored in second period with less than three minutes between them as first American NCAA player, Annie Pankowski found the net before Linköping HC’s Susanna Tapani equalized with Luleå’s Petra Nieminen gaining an assist.
And that would be the only goals all the way through to penalties where Amanda Kessel found the net and Pankowski would score twice. Playing on home ice, Espoo Blues back, Minnamari Touminen would score for the hosts. However, Luleå’s Michelle Karvinen, Ronja Salvolainen and Petra Nieminen and last of all, Tapani would all miss to see the Americans crowned World and Olympic champions.
The Finns will be able to look back with pride with a historic Silver and the Luleå/ MSSK contingent will be able to look back upon an Olympic Bronze, Champions Cup winners and two Swedish championships in a truly remarkable 14 months for Finnish hockey.
Canada would take bronze crushing Russia 7-0 in third and fourth placed playoff.
At the Olympics in Pyeongchang last year the Swedish team sunk to an all time low finishing seventh out of eight teams with only hosts Korea below them. Much of the blame was put on manager Leif Björk, who was rumoured to be unpopular amongst the players, who lost his job on the return to Europe.
Sweden were seeded in the second half of the table away from the favourites so new manager, Ylva Martinsen was expecting to make it through to the knockout stages in a group that contained Germany, France, Japan and the Czech Republic.
Leksand’s veteran, Sofia Engström was the only one to score in an overtime loss to Germany.
19 year old and former Djurgården player Hanna Olsson, captain and Luleå forward Emma Nordin and veteran Erika Grahm all found the net past MODO Hockey’s netminder, Klara Peslarova, one of three SDHL players in the Czech team. But it was not enough to beat eventual group winners who came out 5-3 victors.
Four players who play in Sweden were in the French team and it was MODO Hockey’s duo of Marion Allemoz and Lore Baudrit who assisted on France’s 1-0 goal after 15:15. But Sweden would finally gain their first victory in the tournament with goals from Luleå’s Melinda Olsson and Linköping’s Pernilla Winberg in a 2-1 victory.
The final match of the tournament was against Japan who had beaten the Swedes at the Olympics forcing them into the seventh and eighth playoff. If Sweden lost this game they would be demoted to the Division 1A World Championships in 2019/20.
Captain Nordin scored first but Luleå teammate and Japan’s captain Chiho Osawa gained an assist in their equalizing 1-1 goal. Engström would get her second goal of the game only for Japan to score two with the game winning goal coming with 1:15 left on the clock.
So for the first ever time in Swedish women’s hockey history, they will play in Division 1 next year in a nightmare start for Martinsen in her first ever tournament.