“Ostersund was the first big Championship where the Swedish team played with two lines during all the games.”
A successful 2015 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships B-Pool in Ostersund saw South Korea and home team Sweden promoted to the A-Pool.
The levelling-up of Sweden and the hosts of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games enters at No. 42 in the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Top 50 Moments of 2015.
South Korea enjoyed a perfect 5-0 unbeaten record across the week-long competition in Ostersund in March, with Seung-Hwan Jung named Best Forward. Jung led all players with 13 goals, nine assists and 22 points.
The team also made history by scoring a record 15 goals in their second match against Poland, the most scored in a single game at a World Championships A-Pool or B-Pool.
Despite being beaten into silver-medal position by South Korea, Sweden left content with their new A-pool status, which brings them closer to competing at the Paralympic Games in 2018.
The team’s five-time Paralympian Niklas Ingvarsson was named the Best Defenceman of the tournament, leading all players at his position with seven goals and 10 points.
“We feel we belong in the A-pool and being relegated to B-pool was a disappointment for us,” Ingvarsson said. “We were all very determined to come back to A-pool. But every game has to be played and the whole team has to perform its best in every game in order to do it. Being promoted was nothing we took for granted!”
Sweden finished the Championships with just one loss over five games. Ingvarsson believes that it could mark the start of a new era.
“The biggest improvement for us is that we have a bigger team with many new players with a lot of potential,” he said. “Ostersund was the first big Championship where the Swedish team played with two lines during all the games.”
In the final game of the tournament both teams found the net early, with South Korean Byeong-Seok Cho, a member of the squad since 2008, and Swedish captain Peter Ojala scoring in the first period to make it 1-1.
Per Kasperi’s late goal in the third period was not enough to come back from earlier goals by South Korea’s Young-Jae Cho and a Byeong-Seok Cho. The final score was 4-2.
When comparing themselves to established A-pool teams such as world champions the USA and Canada, Ingvarsson is cautiously optimistic about Sweden’s chances.
“Right now Sweden is not playing in the same league as Canada and USA. But if everything works out well a semi-final in the A-pool is fully realistic.
“But we will need more teams in Sweden and more players before we can be on the same level as Canada and US,” he said. “Since Sochi 2014 [Paralympic Winter Games], new teams have formed and new players have started. But it will take some years before all talent is transformed to the world’s top players. But our ambition is to get there!”
The final standings from Ostersund 2015 were:
1. South Korea
5. Great Britain
In 2017, the top five finishers from the World Championships A-Pool will directly qualify for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympics. The bottom three teams from the A-Pool event and the top three teams from the B-Pool event will compete in a Qualification Tournament for PyeongChang 2018 that same year.
The IPC is counting down the top 50 moments of 2015 every day until 31 December. More information can be found at the IPC’s website.