Sweden – Latvia (OG 2022, group C) | National Teams – Ice Hockey

The format of the Olympic competition, which allows everyone to qualify for the final stages, is an advantage for the teams hit by the Covid-19, which is the majority of them to varying degrees. This gives everyone time to get back into the rhythm. Latvia is complete. Arturs Kulda even arrived in Beijing yesterday but he will only have the right to replace his « Covid substitute » (Sejejs). After ten days without skating during their isolation protocol, Rodrigo Abols and Andris Dzerins are aligned from this first match. Yet announced in normal form, the still titular Miks Indrasis is surprisingly left in the stands and should not start until tomorrow against Finland.

This first match has almost more stake for Sweden. At the last world championship, she had never morally recovered from her entry failure against Denmark (3-4). His Olympic contingent must therefore avoid this trap and prove that he is as safe and reliable as they say, not one to screw up even if he is not brilliant.

Latvia come with a well-organized game in the neutral zone and try to be aggressive with good energy. But the Tre Kronor takes the measure of this adversary and seizes possession by winning the majority of the duels, face-offs included. In the tenth minute, Pontus Holmberg’s fine pass from behind the cage was taken over by Lucas Wallmark for the opener. The Baltics start taking silly penalties and Carl Klingberg is close to doubling the lead at the end of the first period by deflecting a shot from Wallmark.

At the start of the second period, Latvian goalkeeper Ivars Punnenovs misses an outing to throw out of his net. Carl Klingberg intercepts the puck and serves Mathias Bromé. The shot is saved by a desperate dive from Punnenovs, but Anton Lander follows through and sends the rebound into the empty net. Latvia immediately had the opportunity to get back into the match when Wallmark’s stick hit Janis Jaks in the face: during these four minutes of numerical advantage, they were still just as timorous offensively. Only a deflection from Kenins forces Lars Johansson to a good save. After a penalty from Ralfs Freibergs, it only takes Sweden 13 seconds for Wallmark to arm a one-timer served by Tömmernes.

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The match seemed uneventful, but double scorer Wallmark also took all of his team’s penalties. While he is in prison to hang, Renars Krastenbergs, in the left circle, beats Johansson with a shot in the top corner. Revived, Latvia took the initiative in the third period. Wallmark, who knows the way, returns to the penalty bench, this time to serve a team penalty. The Latvian power play, which worried his coach, redeems himself with a second goal. Johansson is still beaten on the glove side, on a rebound from Nikolajs Jelisejevs. With a goal difference, Latvia puts the pressure by being much more active than its opponent. The apparent total control by the Tre Kronor mid-game was therefore only an illusion. Dzierkals could have equalized but sees the puck escape him at full speed. Once his team kills a penalty from Abols, Harijs Vitolins takes out his keeper. Lars Johansson saves the Swedish victory – which ultimately hangs by a thread – by moving well against Uvis Balinskis’ one-timer two seconds from the end.

Post-match comments :

Johan Garpenlöv (Sweden coach): “We may not have a lot of pure goalscorers, but we have a lot of guys who can score. Today Lucas [Wallmark] scored two goals, tomorrow it may be another. He is a good play-creating center. He can serve other players and can score himself. That’s why he’s in our team and that’s what we need him for. »

Harijs Vitolins (Latvia coach): “We said we had to play a physical game against the Swedes. We liked the character of the team when we didn’t give up at 0-3. Perhaps discipline needs to be improved so as not to give grounds for punishment. The mobility and the powerplay were there, the excitement also on the bench. It wasn’t a lucky win on their part, but it’s not like they’ve dominated attendance after attendance. Let’s fix our mistakes and we’ll be ready tomorrow. »

Andris Dzerins (Latvia striker): « It was pretty hard for me after quarantine and it took me a few shifts to get into the game. Anyway, I can look all the guys in the eye – they gave their all and there is nothing to fault anyone. I feel good considering the situation, but we should not look for excuses. I’ve been tested more than the others but I’m back with everyone. I no longer go crazy sitting alone in my room. I have someone to communicate with in person. In the last seconds, there was still a chance to equalise. Let’s work on our mental preparation to be more disciplined because there have been too many penalties. »

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Sweden – Latvia 6-2 (3-1, 1-1, 2-0)
Thursday February 10, 2022 at 12:10 p.m. at the National Sports Center in Beijing. 873 spectators.
Referees: Martin Frano (TCH) and Kristian Vikman (FIN) assisted by William Hancock II (USA) and Nikita Shalagin (RUS).
Penalties: Sweden 8′ (0′, 6′, 2′), Latvia 10′ (4′, 4′, 2′).
Shots: Sweden 26 (9, 9, 8), Latvia 17 (3, 4, 10).

Score evolution:
1-0 at 09:42: Wallmark assisted by Holmberg and Olofsson
2-0 at 20:30: Lander assisted by Bromé and Klingberg
3-0 at 33’39: Wallmark assisted by Tömmernes and Pudas (num. sup.)
3-1 at 36’07: Krastenbergs assisted by Balinskis and Dārziņš (digital over)
3-2 at 46’48: Jeļisejevs assisted by Dārziņš and Balinskis (num. over)

Sweden (2′ for excess)

Mathias Bromé (+1) – Anton Lander (C, +1) – Carl Klingberg (+1)
Pontus Holmberg (+1) – Lucas Wallmark (+1, 6′) – Fredrik Olofsson (+1)
Dennis Everberg – Jacob de la Rose – Gustav Rydahl
Joakim Nordström – Marcus Krüger (A) – Max Friberg

Oscar Fantenberg – Lukas Bengtsson
Philip Holm (+1) – Christian Folin
Henrik Tömmernes (A, +2) – Jonathan Pudas (+1)

Guardian :
Lars Johansson

Substitute: Magnus Hellberg (G), Linus Hultström (D), Linus Johansson (A). In reserve: Adam Reideborn (G), Theodor Lennström (D), Daniel Brodin (A).


Ronalds Ķēniņš (-1) – Rodrigo Ābols (A, -1, 2′) – Renārs Krastenbergs (-1)
Lauris Dārziņš (C) – Dennis Smirnovs (2′) – Kaspars Daugaviņš (2′)
Nikolajs Jeļisejevs – Oskars Batņa – Gints Meija
Rihards Bukarts (-1) – Andris Džeriņš (-1, 2′) – Mārtiņš Dzierkals (-1)

Oskars Cibuļskis (A, -2) – Ralfs Freibergs (-2, 2′)
Roberts Mamčics – Jānis Jaks
Uvis Balinskis – Kristaps Zīle
Nauris Sejejs – Patriks Ozols

Guardian :
Ivars Punnenovs [sorti à 58’36]

Substitute: Jānis Kalniņš (G). In reserve: Kristers Gudļevskis (G), Mārtiņš Karsums, Miks Indrašis (A).

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