Quarterfinals of the Ice Hockey World Cup in Riga Sweden – Latvia, May 25, 2023. Players of Latvia and Sweden after the match.
Stockholm/Helsinki/Bern – Fiasco, cold shower, disappointment, these are the words used by the Swedish press to evaluate the hockey players' loss in the quarter-finals of the world championship against Latvia on Thursday. According to critics, the team lacked top players from the NHL, enthusiasm and also the ability to convert chances. Finland is also disappointed, which, according to the Finnish media, did not find a personality at the tournament who would take responsibility. Switzerland, winners of the group stage, stopped Germany again in the play-offs.
Swedish TV expert and former great forward Mikael Renberg sees the reason for the defeat (1:3) as, among other things, the fact that the team management failed to secure a sufficient number of top players from the NHL. According to him, the abilities of hockey players from the Swedish league are overrated.
Another legendary hockey player, Jonas Bergqvist, who has three gold medals from the championships and one from the Olympics, was also very critical of the Swedish team's game. “Tre Kronor played seven games in the regular season. No player celebrated when he scored a goal. They lacked enthusiasm. In the quarter-finals they ran into a team that was full of enthusiasm. The result was predetermined for me,” Bergqvist told Aftonbladet.
Defender Henrik Tömmernes called the result with Latvia in Riga a cold shower. He pointed out that the team played a total of almost 12 minutes with a numerical advantage. “Of course I'm sad. We had a lot of power plays and I was on the ice,” Tömmernes told SVT television. “We're doing the right things, but we can't get the puck in the goal,” he added. The Swedes had 41 shots, converted only one.
Latvian fans celebrated their first promotion to the semi-finals of the World Cup in the streets of Riga, which turned into one big party. And part of it took place in front of the Swedish embassy, where hundreds of people came to lay flowers and danced and sang songs by Swedish band ABBA such as “The Winner Takes It All”, Swedish newspaper Expressen reported.
Latvian politician Selma Levrence, who posted footage of the celebrations on Twitter, explained that it was a special Latvian tradition. “For those who don't know about it: in Latvia it is customary to lay flowers in front of the embassy of the country we beat in hockey. Today we won over Sweden and we are going to the semi-finals for the first time,” Levrence wrote. “I've always been skeptical about Latvian patriotism, but this is a historic moment for our country,” she added.
Finland's golden dreams were stopped by Canada. They were more efficient, had a better goalkeeper and a better organized game, wrote the Swedish-language Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet after the 1-4 defeat. “Usually at a big tournament, a player steps out from the crowd and takes responsibility. But this time, Finland lacked such a personality,” stated Hufvudstadsbladet. Mikko Rantanen and Kaapo Kakko were supposed to be the main weapons of the offensive, but they scored only one goal in the championship, the paper added.
Not even Switzerland leaves the championship satisfied. After an excellent start and a victory in the group, “the Swiss team had to close the sails prematurely again”, wrote the internet portal of the public radio and television srf.ch about the setback with Germany (1:3).
It is the fourth time in a row, what the Swiss finished in the quarterfinals at the World Cup. “And the trauma caused by Germany does not end either – the clash with this rival once again meant the final one,” the portal srf.ch reported. He recalled that the Germans eliminated the Swiss at the same stage in 2010 and 2021. The tabloid Blick wrote that Switzerland was always the “clear favorite”. but when it comes to breaking bread, it fails,” Blick noted, adding that the Swiss had no choice but to swallow the bitter pill. “It seems that the quarter-finals are (for us) a blockade that no one can break through,” writes Blick. Neither coach Patrick Fischer nor the NHL stars around Nic Hischier, Nino Niederreiter and Kevin Fiala.