OTTAWA – Walking towards the locker room, Sweden’s players hit the innards of ScotiaBank Place’s walls with their sticks out of frustration.
Some screamed with anger.
And some, like Kings forward and Swedish captain Oscar Moller, didn’t say or do much at all. He was too bewildered to channel his thoughts into coherent sentences.
More than 4,000 miles and 365 days removed from Sweden’s 3-2 overtime loss to Canada in last year’s World Junior Championships, the scene was drastically different – but still eerily similar for the gold and blue. The 5-1 loss on Monday night in Ottawa to Canada was not only frustrating but also disappointing for a team that had been perfect up that point in one of the world’s most prestigious tournaments.
Silver wasn’t the precious medal Moller was dreaming of in the championship rematch.
“I am angry, I am sad, I am disappointed, I’m mad,” Moller said. “I am all of these things right now. I really can’t even put it into words how I feel right now. I think that anyone in this position would feel this way.”
This year’s defeat was perhaps a tougher pill to swallow for Sweden due to the fact that they were closer last year, falling in overtime. Last year, Moller said he was “bitter” about the loss, but he clearly had a positive attitude because the Swedes were not expected to be in the hunt for the gold medal.
This year, Moller expected his team to win – no matter the opponent.
“We felt that this was the year, this was power house team that we have been waiting for,” Moller said. “We wanted to go all the way. We wanted to win the gold medal as bad as they did too.
“Our mentality was winning. That is why I feel so bitter right now.”
The much anticipated tilt got off to an inauspicious start for Sweden, who trailed just 38 seconds into the game thanks to an early power play. A frenzied hometown crowd and a hot Canadian goaltender smothered Sweden’s comeback bid; a goal with 11 minutes, 30 seconds left in the game was too little, too late.
“We wanted to win badly,” Moller said. “That power play in the first minute really put us in a bad spot. Their fans were crazy and it was a hard environment to try and stage a comeback, but we didn’t give up. We wanted it.”
“We beat ourselves,” Moller explained.
The loss was the cap on a frustrating tournament for Moller, who was held to just one goal and three assists in the tournament. Moller had a target on his chest, not only was he wearing the “C” for Sweden, but he was also one of just four current NHL players skating in the tournament.
He was the primary focus of opponents’ top checkers. However, being heavily guarded gave his teammates more of an opportunity to put the puck in the net; Sweden scored at an impressive clip of almost five goals per game.
Scoring, or lack thereof, should not be a concern for Kings fans when looking at Moller’s numbers from the tournament. Early in his debut season with the Kings, Moller has provided a scoring threat when called upon – especially on the power play. His five power play goals this season leads all NHL rookies.
There is no doubt that it will be a long plane ride back to Los Angeles for Moller. But he also knows that it isn’t every day that he gets to represent his country against stout competition.
“I am glad that I came,” Moller said. “I just wish we could have won the gold medal. But I am excited to get back to work.”
By FRANK SERAVALLI | Special to LAKings.com