Ostersund 2017: Sweden vs Germany in showdown for last PyeongChang 2018 place

Paralympic seeding also on the line in Saturday’s finale 13 Oct 2017
a group of Para ice hockey players hug on the ice

Sweden's hopes of reaching PyeongChang 2018 are still alive

ⒸKarl Nilsson

“If we are patient the whole game and if we can play like the team we are, then we can take the third position and go to the Paralympics.”

Hosts Sweden will face Germany to decide who will be the final team to reach PyeongChang 2018 on the last day of the World Para Ice Hockey Winter Games Qualification Tournament in Ostersund, Sweden.

Slovakia’s defeat by Japan on Friday (13 October) ended their hopes of appearing at next year’s Paralympics, and allowed Sweden to continue their quest for qualification despite losing to Czech Republic.

The Czechs together with Japan have already guaranteed a place at PyeongChang 2018 by finishing in the top two places, but will go head to head on Saturday (14 October) to decide both the tournament winner and the seedings for next year’s Paralympics.

Czech Republic 4-3 Sweden

Sweden were always going to find it tough against a Czech Republic who had cruised through their first two games, going 10-1 against their opponents.

But in the end the match was a fiercely contested thriller featuring three tied scores.

After two lacklustre performances against Japan and Slovakia, Sweden nation showed new energy. Christian Hedberg found Niklas Rakos for a goal that tied the game 1-1 with less than a minute gone in the first period. Rakos then returned the favour late in the second period to give Sweden their first lead of the game 3-2.

But the Czechs scored two back-to-back goals, one from Pavel Kubes and only 30 seconds later from David Palat, to retake the 4-3 lead, putting the pressure back on Sweden.

With less than five minutes left in the game, Sweden called a timeout to draw up a play and eventually pulled their goalkeeper in hopes of forcing overtime but they could not find the final score.

It means Sweden must beat Germany in regular time in front of their home fans to qualify for PyeongChang 2018. An overtime win would not be enough as it would give Germany the extra point needed to finish third.

“[It was a] really tough game [today] but when we lost patience then they scored against us and we need to be patient against Germany,” said Sweden coach Erik Vikstrom.

“If we are patient the whole game and if we can play like the team we are, then we can take the third position and go to the Paralympics.”

Japan 4-2 Slovakia

Slovakia had their Paralympic hopes ended by Japan, despite a late comeback.

Japan raced into a 3-0 lead after the first two periods, but in the third their offense came to life.

Marian Ligda once again scored his team’s first goal, his second in the tournament, before Ales Raus set up Martin Joppa to cut the Japanese lead to 3-2.

But back came Japan. Wataru Horie put the game away with his goal off a powerplay, knocking the puck into the left-hand corner of the goal.

“I’m happy right now but we still have to focus on tomorrow’s game. Maybe tomorrow I will cry and be more happy, but we will see,” Horie said.

“Our strength is we play as a team. We don’t have a super star.”

Friday was Slovakia’s last game of the tournament. Despite socking Sweden earlier in the week with an overtime win, team captain Peter Stit said there is still room for growth.

“Actually the tournament set up a mirror for us so that we can see where we are,” Stit said.

“It is simple [what we learned]. Without experience compared to the other teams, we do not belong in the top eight.”

“I am not afraid,” he added. “I think that not only these players [like Martin Joppa] but also others who are beginners and are not competing here are good. And I think Slovakia has a future in Para ice hockey.”

Standings after three days

1. Czech Republic - 9 points (Q)

2. Japan – 9 points (Q)

3. Germany – 3 points

4. Slovakia – 2 points

5. Sweden – 1 point