On a shockingly busy Sunday in the hockey world – with international action coinciding with the Western Conference Final and Memorial Cup round robin – the 2018 edition of the IIHF World Hockey Championship was capped off in Copenhagen, Denmark. A pair of prominent Calgary Flames forwards left the event with some hardware, including one capturing an elusive gold medal.
Sweden beats Switzerland in a shootout for gold
Captained by Flames center Mikael Backlund, Sweden capped off a sterling tournament with a tightly-checked 3-2 shootout victory over Switzerland. The Swedes never had a lead, but were effective in reeling in the Swiss every time they scored: they trailed for roughly 11 minutes of the entire game and generated more shots and scoring chances. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Filip Forsberg scored in the shootout to cement the gold medal.
Blessed image pic.twitter.com/VW9xA8px0y
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) May 20, 2018
Backlund played a ton for Sweden, amassing more ice-time than any forward not named Forsberg – and more ice-time in overtime than any Swedish forward. He never hit the scoresheet, but he was his usual Backlund self: managing the puck, taking key face-offs, and generally playing a smart 200-foot game.
The gold medal is Backlund’s first in 10 major international events for Sweden and his seventh international medal overall:
- Bronze at the 2007 Under-18 Worlds
- Silver at the 2008 World Juniors
- Silver at the 2009 World Juniors
- Bronze at the 2010 World Championship
- Silver at the 2011 World Championship
- Bronze at the 2014 World Championship
United States edges Canada for bronze
The bronze medal game had good news and bad news for the Flames faithful. The good news is that Johnny Gaudreau captured bronze at the Worlds, as the Americans bounced back from a tough loss to Sweden in the semi-final round to generally flummox the Canadian attack. Gaudreau didn’t hit the scoresheet, but played fairly well.
The bad news is that new Flames bench boss Bill Peters saw his star-studded forward group gradually wilt and fail to generate much offense as the games got more important. Curtis McElhinney was perfectly fine in the Canadian net, but he didn’t bail Canada out enough to give them any kind of boost on the back end.
The bronze is Gaudreau’s second international medal, following a gold captured with the American World Junior entry in 2013. Flames backup netminder David Rittich and the Czech Republic finished seventh overall.