Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Es ist ein Wunder!

Sweden rallies from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits but loses in overtime. The loss is the greatest upset in Olympic hockey since 2002 when Belarus beat Sweden, also 4-3.

Patirck Reimer drove hard to the goal, skated around three Swedes in the process, and banged his own rebound past goalie Viktor Fasth just 90 seconds into a 10-minute four-on-four overtime to give Germany an improbable victory over Sweden.
To add to the drama, the play went to video review to determine if the puck had crossed the goal line. It had.
The win is the greatest for the country since February 14, 1976, when it beat the United States, 4-1, to earn its only Olympic medal, a bronze. But that was as West Germany.
But since Germany became one country in 1990, there is no result that comes close to tonight's shocker. The team raced to a 2-0 lead, fought hard to make it 3-1 midway through the third, and blew a two-goal lead before Reimer's heroics.
'I’m proud of the guys, how they played, how they worked," said Marcel Goc. "We had a couple of huge blocks from our guys. We tried everything we had, and it was enough today. In OT, everything can happen. One lucky bounce or one deflection and the puck goes in and the game is over. Reimer made a really nice move, I thought, took the puck to the net and put it in."
This was not vintage Tre Kronor of Forsberg and Sundin and Sedins and Backstrom. This was more like Tva Kronor (two crowns) or Ett Kronor (one crown). Sweden si going home, and Germany will play Canada in the semi-finals, the winner going for gold, the loser for bronze.
Either way, Germany will play for a medal, a possibility no one could have taken seriously two weeks ago.
"It’s huge for our sport," Goc continued, "especially at the Olympics. It’s not just World Championships, where it’s just hockey or hockey fans. It’s a big platform for us. This game was live in Germany, too. It was a good time. It’s a good advertisement for us. I hope we got some more fans."
"We’re really just excited that we have a chance to play for a medal," Goc summed up. "This is a dream come true for us. We might need a few minutes here or a night to let it set and understand what we did here."
For us, it’s a huge step forward. Four years ago we didn’t qualify to go to Sochi. This time, I thought we played a great qualification. It’s started to pay off, the work we put in.
Sometimes number can be deceiving. They don’t tell the whole story even while they appear to. Consider the shots on goal totals for the first period. The numbers show the Swedes outshot Germany 15-10. Nothing special, right? Wrong.
The Swedes got 13 of their shots before Germany got its first. Sweden had an early power play and several great scoring chances, but they couldn’t bulge the twine.
Then, inexplicably, as if a switch went off, Germany gained some confidence, and then got a power play. They took 10:10 to register their first shot, but at 13:48 they opened the scoring when veteran Christian Ehrhoff’s floating point shot drifted under the arm of Viktor Fasth for a stunning goal.
Just 29 seconds later, they scored again! This time it was Marcel Noebels, who was in the right place at the right time to flick a loose puck past a scrum at 14:17 to make it 2-0 Germany.
In all, Germany had ten shots in a row before Sweden got a couple of late ones on Danny aus den Birken, but the shots totals didn’t tell the story of this improbable 2-0 lead for the massive underdog Germans.
One would think a team like Sweden, with such a long and rich history of winning would have re-grouped in the first intermission and came out flying to start the second. Well, that didn’t happen.
In fact, Germany had a good chance early, and then at the three-minute mark had a most extraordinary flurry of five shots at goal in about as many seconds. Fasth made two great saves and three shots narrowly missed the target, but it was clear by now the Swedes just didn’t have that high gear to switch to when they needed it.
Shots on goal in the second was a conservative 5-4 for the Germans, who protected their lead well without falling into a defensive shell.
In the third the tne changed as soon as Sweden coach Rikard Gronborg put out 17-year-od Rasmus Dahlin for his first shift of the night. The Swedes had good pressure, and on Dahlin's third shift his point shot wound up ni a scramble in front where Anton Lander put it in. 
Two minutes later, though, Dahlin was caught up ice on a rush and Dominik Kahun beat Fasth from a distance with a wrist shot going the other way. That gave the Germans a 3-1 lead with 11:32 remaining.
But Sweden came back on a power play a minute later, Patrik Hersley wiring a one-timer to cut the lead in half.
The Swedes completed their comeback at 11:37 when Mikael Wikstrand's long wrist shot went all the way past a screened aus den Birken. That set the stage for overtime.

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