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Sweden Wins World Hockey Championship

by Staff Writer / Colorado Avalanche
RIGA, Latvia (AP) - Sweden shut out the defending champion Czech Republic 4-0 Sunday to win the IIHF world hockey championship and complete a unique double three months after capturing Olympic gold.

It was the eighth world title for Sweden, which had eight Olympic champions on its roster. At the Turin Winter Games, Sweden beat Nordic rival Finland in the final.

No team had managed the elusive double in international hockey. There have been six previous occasions when the Olympic tournament and world championship were played as separate tournaments in the same year.

"It's fun to be part of hockey history," Sweden coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson said. "It's been great working with these guys and my staff.

"I think we played more or less a perfect game today. After taking a 2-0 lead we had a good control of the game."

Sweden was missing one of its top goal-scorers, Mika Hannula (four goals), who was suspended one game for his vicious cross-check to Sidney Crosby's jaw in a 5-4 semifinal win over Canada on Saturday.

But Sweden's "Tre Kronor" did fine without him.

Jesper Mattsson, Fredrik Emvall, Niklas Kronwall and veteran Jorgen Jonsson, playing in his 11th worlds, gave Sweden a 4-0 lead after the first two periods.

After a cautious start from both teams, Mattsson opened the scoring at 14:36 in the first period, knocking in a rebound over goalie Milan Hnilicka and into the net.

"It's unbelievable," Mattsson said. "The world championship is really big back home in Sweden. I think the last time we won was 1998 so it's really big. I can't really understand it yet. Probably a couple of weeks before I do."

Emvall made it 2-0 just 37 seconds later, deflecting a shot past Hnilicka.

Kronwall gave Sweden a 3-0 lead 4:07 into the second period, skating unchallenged into the Czech end and beating Hnilicka with a backhander.

"We just felt like there was nothing to hold back," Kronwall said. "It was the last game of the season and the world championship final. You're not tired at all, you just try to put that away and go out there and work hard.

"I think we got a lucky bounce there on the first goal, and after that we just kept working. We got the second one again. When we got the third goal, it felt pretty safe after that."

Kronwall, one of four players from the Detroit Red Wings on Sweden's roster, was selected as the most valuable player in the tournament.

"It's flattering, but it's a team effort," Kronwall said. "In my opinion, (Sweden defenceman) Kenny Jonsson should have that award, but it is what it is and I'm happy to be where I'm at right now.

"We're going to celebrate this tonight here in Riga. Tomorrow we're chartering a plane to go back to Stockholm to celebrate with the people."

With the Czechs shorthanded, Sweden scored again at 17:01 with a one-timer by Jorgen Jonsson, Kenny Jonsson's brother.

Goalie Johan Holmqvist earned his second shutout in seven games, making 15 saves. Sweden outshot the Czechs 26-15.

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