Sweden beats Czech Republic 4-0
in world hockey championship final
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.
COMRIE & CANADA FALL TO FINLAND
RIGA, Latvia (CP) - The heart was there but the bodies just didn't respond.
Just 18 hours after losing a tough semifinal game, Team Canada was back on the ice at the IIHF world hockey championship and couldn't quite summon the energy to beat Finland in the bronze-medal game.
The final score was 5-0, but it was no reflection of the effort.
"If you look at the mood before the game, we really wanted to come out here and have a good showing," said forward Sidney Crosby. "I think that our mind was in the right place.
"It was just that physically we couldn't follow. We left it all out there last night."
The Canadians showed no quit on Sunday but couldn't overcome some questionable refereeing and early power-play goals by Tomi Kallio and Olli Jokinen.
It's the hard reality of a long international tournament - good breaks are needed just as much as good play and the Canadians didn't get enough of the former in Riga.
"I've been on the winning end of these tournaments and the losing end," said captain Brendan Shanahan. "Even when you win, you look back at the bounce you got or the save you got .B .B .
"It's amazing how it goes, the difference between winning and losing."
The Finns lost 2-1 to the Czech Republic in the early semifinal on Saturday afternoon before Canada was edged 5-4 by Sweden in the evening. Sweden beat the Czech Republic 4-0 in the gold-medal game Sunday.
"I think the bronze game here is about how you can regroup after the semifinal game," said Finland's Antti Miettinen, who scored a goal against Canada. "I think we did a pretty good job."
Riku Hahl and Jussi Jokinen also scored for Finland (6-2-1), which won its second ever world championship bronze.
Canada (6-3-0) was shut out for the first time in the tournament.
It wasn't for lack of trying as they outshot the Finns 37-33.
"We had the right energy," said Crosby. "We just tried to stay patient and keep going.
"It seemed like as it went on we became more drained and was harder to keep that level of intensity."
Canada got on the Finnish defence with a solid forecheck right off the opening faceoff, forcing several turnovers that led to good scoring chances.
Goaltender Fredrik Norrena, who took over the starting job when Antero Nittymaki was injured in the round robin against Canada, had to be sharp.
But it was the Finns who opened the scoring on a power play after Mike Comrie was sent off for holding. Alex Auld thought the puck was underneath him when Kallio came charging into his crease to poke it in at 4:06.
It was the fourth time in five games that the Canadians allowed the first goal.
"That hurt," said defenceman Nick Schultz. "It hurt us yesterday with (Sweden) getting out to an early lead.
"It was something that hurt us all tournament."
The game got chippy in the first as Finland tried to rile up the Canadians. Finnish defenceman Lasse Kukkonen and Comrie, who played a spirited opening 20 minutes, ended up jostling on the back of the net after one scrum.
Slovak referee Peter Jonak tried to calm things down by sending a steady stream of players to the penalty box, but both teams continued to finish checks and play with an edge.
Canada's best chances of the period came in quick succession. First, captain Brendan Shanahan set up Jason Williams with a nice backhand pass just moments before Williams returned the favour and Norrena barely got his glove on Shanahan's quick shot.
"We played hard," said Comrie. "As Canadians we're always proud and it's always an honour to represent the country."
Despite trailing 1-0 at the intermission it was a good opening period for Canada, which put 16 shots on the Finnish goal and looked strong.
"We just had nothing in our tanks and we played a good team on top of that," said Canadian coach Marc Habscheid. "I'm really proud of our guys."
Shanahan and Finland's Ville Peltonen and Jarkko Ruutu stayed on the ice at the end of the first period to talk to Jonak about the way he was calling the game.
It fell on deaf ears.
"A lot of the flow was taken from the scorers with all the penalties," said Shanahan.
After Canadian defenceman Stephane Robidas opened the second period by ringing a shot of the high post, Finland took advantage with its power play.
Jonak called a pair of questionable penalties on Sidney Crosby and Micki Dupont to give the Finns a 5-on-3 advantage and Olli Jokinen gave his team a 2-0 lead by tipping a shot by Auld at 5:20.
The game started getting away from Canada midway through the game as Jonak kept making marginal calls. Moments after Dan Hamhuis stepped out of the penalty box, Brad Stuart took his place.
Finland wasn't too dangerous on those power plays, but it kept the Canadians from pressing for the important next goal.
Hahl ended up scoring it for Finland after Canadian defencemen Brent Seabrook coughed the puck up to him right in front of Auld to make it 3-0 late in the second period.
Miettinen and Jussi Jokinen scored in the third period.
"It was hard to come out," Schultz said. "They played well.
"I think the better team won tonight."
The Canadians gave it all they had.
"We've done everything we can to bring a gold medal home," said Robidas.
Notes: Canada lost 2-1 to Finland in the bronze medal game in 2000 .B .B . Finland has now won eight world championship medals (one gold, five silver, two bronze) while Canada has 42 (23 gold, 10 silver, nine bronze) .B .B . TSN has reached a five-year deal to broadcast tournament through 2011.