Archive for May, 2018

Sweden took the gold medal at the 2018 World Championship while Switzerland got the silver medal and USA captured the bronze medal

May 20, 2018

The headline on the website of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) read: TRE KRONOR GOLDEN AGAIN!

On May 20, 2018, Sweden beat Switzerland 3-2 in a shootout to win the gold medal at the 2018 Ice Hockey World Championship at Royal Arena in Copenhagen.  Sweden never took the lead in the championship game before winning the shootout.  Sweden and Switzerland traded chances during the scoreless third period and during an aggressive overtime period.

It was Sweden’s third world title in six years and 11th overall. The shootout goal was made by Filip Forsberg, who plays for the Nashville Predators in the NHL.

“We wanted to win the gold medal, and her we are,” said Sweden forward Viktor Arvidsson, who also plays for Nashville of the NHL. “It’s unbelievable, especially for Filip (Forsberg). He’s a great player, one of our top players.  It’s unbelievable to win with my teammates.”

“We battled hard . . . all tournament long,” said Switzerland defenseman Mirco Muller (New Jersey Devils). “Once you look at the bigger picture, it’s huge for Swiss hockey.  But right now, there’s a disappointment.  We definitely had our chances.”

“They [Switzerland] were close to winning the whole championship.  So credit to them,” said Sweden forward Magnus Paajarvi (Ottawa Senators).

Sweden outshot Switzerland 38-27.

How the scoring went:

FIRST PERIOD — Nino Niederreiter of Switzerland (16:38 played); Gustav Nyquist of Sweden (17:54 played).  1-1 at the end of the first period.  (Niederreiter plays for the Minnesota Wild.)

SECOND PERIOD — Timo Meier of Switzerland (23:13 played) (power play goal); Mika Zibanejad of Sweden (34:54 played) (power play goal).  2-2 at the end of the second period.  (Meier plays for the San Jose Sharks and Zibanejad plays for the New York Rangers.)

THIRD PERIOD — No score.

OVERTIME — No score.

SHOOTOUT — Filip Forsberg of Sweden scored on Leonardo Genoni of Switzerland. (Genoni plays for SC Bern.)

Sweden got to the gold medal game by beating USA 6-0 in the semifinals and by taking a 3-2 win over Latvia in the quarterfinals.  The Vancouver Canucks’ Anders Nilsson became the first goalie to shut out USA during the first nine games of the tournament.  All but one of the players on the American team are NHL players. Switzerland made it to the finals by stunning Canada 3-2 in the semifinals and upsetting Finland 3-2 in the quarterfinals.  Canada was the silver medalist in 2017. Switzerland’s win over Canada this year was said to be its biggest game ever against Canada in the world championship.

Switzerland had not won a major IIHF-sanctioned tournament at any level in 110 years. Sweden had won 16 straight games since winning the 2017 gold medal over Canada in a shootout.  The last loss by Sweden to Switzerland was in 2013, when Switzerland won the silver medal.  Switzerland also won the silver medal in 1935.

Bronze Medal Game — In the bronze medal game, USA beat Canada 4-1.  It was a 2-1 game in the third period until two empty net goals were made by USA at the 2:45 and 1:42 marks.

How the scoring went:

FIRST PERIOD — No score.

SECOND PERIOD — Chris Kreider of USA (6:40 to play) (power play goal); Marc-Edouard Vlasic of Canada (1:54 to play).  1-1 at the end of the second period.  (Kreider plays for the New York Rangers and Vlasic plays for the San Jose Sharks.)

THIRD PERIOD — Nick Bonino of USA (6:39 to play) (power play goal) — then the empty net goals by Anders Lee of USA (2:45 to play) and Chris Kreider of USA (1:42 to play). (Bonino plays for the Nashville Predators and Lee plays for the New York Islanders.)

Keith Kinkaid made 24 saves for USA and Curtis McElhiiney had 33 saves for Canada. (Kinkaid plays for the New Jersey Devils and McElhiiney plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs.)

It was the fist time Canada failed to medal in a world championship in four years.

“Overall, it’s a disappointing tournament,” said alternate captain Ryan O’Reilly of Canada. “It feels like a waste of time.  You want to come here and compete and have a chance to win and you don’t.”  (O’Reilly plays for the Buffalo Sabres.)

“When you look at the tournament overall and you can say you beat Canada twice and came home with a bronze medal, you probably think you’d do a little better than that,” said Patrick Kane of USA.

Bonino had the eventual winning goal while O’Reilly was serving an interference penalty. The opening goal of the game by Kreider was while Canada’s Joel Edmundson was in the box for a roughing infraction.  (Edmundson plays for the St. Louis Blues.)

USA captain Patrick Kane and Canada captain Connor McDavid led their teams in scoring during the tournament.  Kane’s assist to Bonino’s goal gave him 20 points — a new USA record and the best individual performance since Canada’s Dany Heatley had 20 points in 2008.  McDavid finished with 17 points, three behind the Canada record by Heatley and the 1990 performance of Steve Yzerman.

USA beat Czech Republic 3-2 in the quarterfinals.  Canada had a 5-4 overtime win over Russia in the quarterfinals.

Award Winners — Players getting awards as selected by the directorate were: Frederik Andersen of Denmark, best goaltender; John Klingberg of Sweden, best defenseman, and Sebastian Aho of Finland, best forward.  The media all-stars were Patrick Kane of USA, most valuable player; Anders Nilsson of Sweden, best goaltender; Adam Larsson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson of Sweden, best defensemen, and Rickard Rakell of Sweden, Patrick Kane of USA and Sebastian Aho of Finland, best forwards.

Group A and Group B — Group A in the tournament was Sweden, Russia, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Slovakia, France, Austria and Belarus.  In Group B were Finland, USA, Canada, Latvia, Denmark, Germany, Norway and South Korea.

Fifth through Sixteenth Places — Placing 5-8 were Finland, Russia, Czech Republic and Latvia.  The teams placing 9-14 were Slovakia, Denmark, Germany, France, Norway and Austria.  Belarus and South Korea were 15th and 16th.

Top Goal Scorers — Sebastian Aho of Finland (Carolina Hurricanes) scored nine goals to lead the tournament, which took place from May 4-20, 2018 at Copenhagen and Jyske Bank Boxen at Herning, Denmark.  Patrick Kane of USA (Chicago Blackhawks) had eight goals and Cam Atkinson of USA (Columbus Blue Jackets) had seven goals.

Top Goal Tenders — Anders Nilsson of Sweden (Vancouver Canucks) had the best save percentage: 95.40, followed closely by Frederik Andersen of Denmark (Toronto Maple Leafs) (94.38), Igor Shestyorkin of Russia (SKA Saint Petersburg) (94.19) and Elvis Merzlikins of Latvia (HC Lugano) (94.04).

There were 64 matches played and 384 goals scored (average of six per match). The attendance was 520,481 (average of 8,133 per match).

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14 Swedish players were on the last 8 teams involved in the Stanley Cup

May 6, 2018

There were 14 players from Sweden who were members of the last eight National Hockey League teams playing in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS — Three Swedes are on Nashville’s team.  They are Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg and Calle Jarnkrok.  Arvidsson, 24, plays left wing.  He was born in Skelleftea and is paid $4.25 million.  Forsberg, 23, plays left wing.  He was born in Ostervala and is paid $6.0 million.  Jarnkrok, 26, plays center.  He was born in Galve and is paid $1.8 million.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING — Two Swedes are on the Tampa Bay team.  They are Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman.  Hedman, 27, plays defense.  He was born in Ornskoldsvik and is paid $8.0 million.  Stralman, 31, plays defense. He was born in Tibro and is paid $4.5 million.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS — Two Swedes are on the Pittsburgh team.  They are Carl Hagelin and Patric Hornqvist. Hagelin, 29, plays left wing.  He was born in Sodertalje and is paid $3.66 million.  Hornqvist, 31, plays right wing. He was born in Sollentuna and is paid $4.75 million.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS — Two Swedes are on the Washington team.  They are Nicklas Backstrom and Christian Djoos.  Backstrom, 30, plays center.  He was born in Gavle and is paid $7.5 million.  Djoos, 23, plays defense.  He was born in Gothenburg and is paid $650,000.

SAN JOSE SHARKS — Two Swedes are on the San Jose team.  They are Melker Karlsson and Marcus Sorensen. Karlsson, 27, plays center.  He was born in Lycksele and is paid $2.0 million.  Sorensen, 25, plays left wing.  He was born in Sodertalje and is paid $700,000.

LAS VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS — Two Swedes are on the Las Vegas team. They are William Karlsson and Oscar Lindberg.  Karlsson, 25, plays center.  He was born in Marsta and is paid $1.0 million.  Lindberg, 26, plays center.  He was born in Skelleftea and is paid $1.6 million.

WINNIPEG JETS — One Swede is on the Winnipeg team.  He is Toby Enstrom. Enstrom, 33, plays defense.  He was born in Nordingra and is paid $5.75 million.

BOSTON BRUINS — There are no Swedes on the Boston team.

The highest paid Swedes are Hedman ($8.0 million),  Backstrom ($7.5 million) and Forsberg ($6.0 million). Hedman, 6-6 and 223 pounds, was the No. 2 draft pick in 2009, Backstrom, 6-1 and 210 pounds, was the No. 4 draft pick in 2006 and Forsberg, 6-1 and 205 pounds, was the No. 11 draft pick in 2012.

Two of the highest paid players in the NHL are Sidney Crosby ($10.9 million), a 30-year-old Canadian who plays center for Pittsburgh, and Alexander Ovechkin ($10.0 million), a 32-year-old Russian who plays left wing for Washington.  Crosby, 5-11 and 200 pounds, was the No. 1 draft pick in 2005 and Ovechkin, 6-3 and 235 pounds, was the the No. 1 draft pick in 2004.

A bad start ended Mendelssohn’s chance to be the first European-based horse to win the Kentucky Derby

May 6, 2018

There was a big build-up before the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby as to whether Mendelssohn, based in Ireland, would be the first European-trained horse to win the “Race for the Roses.” Mendelssohn, trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by jockey Ryan Moore, was among the favorites to win at Churchill Downs based upon his spectacular 18-1/2 length win at the 1,900 meter (approximately 9.5 furlongs) UAE Derby at Dubai in March — a Grade 2, $2.5 million race, which was Mendelssohn’s first try on dirt.

The closest a European-based horse had come to winning the Kentucky Derby was in 1986 when an English horse, Bold Arrangement, finished second to Ferdinand. “There have been 36 overseas attempts without success since then including Arazi who was eighth as a 4-5 favourite in 1992,” wrote Brian O’Connor in The Irish Times.

Danny Weld, the only trainer based in Europe to ever win an American Classic, predicted that Mendelssohn had a “wonderful chance” to win the Kentucky Derby. (Weld trained Go and Go, which won the 1990 Belmont Stakes.)

“It’s a pretty big call but this is quite doable and I believe he has a great chance to win,” Weld said. “I think he’s Aidan’s best chance of winning the Kentucky Derby and wouldn’t it be great to see it.”

“Even by Aidan O’Brien’s record-breaking standards victor for Mendelssohn . . . would represent a landmark in racing history,” wrote Brian O’Connor in The Irish Times.

A terrible start ended Mendelssohn’s chances. He was bumped out of the gate and was unable to recover in driving rain on a sloppy track. The bad result resulted in a last-place finish in the 20-horse field.

“He just got knocked over coming out of the gate and then got knocked over going in the first bend,” O’Brien said.

“He [was] beat up out of the gate, proceeded to check on the first turn and was never in a good place,” Moore said.  “The race was over for him then.”

“Ryan Moore was slow to stride from stall 14 aboard Mendelssohn and appeared to take a bump as his jockey went inside to try to find a position that gave him a chance to travel and attack,” wrote Greg Wood in The Guardian.  “He ended up buried in the midfield, however, and while Moore did his best to work his way towards the leaders, he accepted three furlongs from home that it was not going to be his day. . . . [A] combination of the torrential rain and his slow start meant he never got a chance to show what he could do.”

Mendelssohn “got slammed badly at the start and ended up at the back of the pack,” wrote Steve Silverman in Bleacher Report. “He was never able to recover.”

Mendelssohn was the second choice behind Justify (5-2 favorite and a half-brother of Mendelssohn), which won 53-1/4 lengths ahead of Mendelssohn’s last place finish. Justify, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by 52-year-old jockey Mike Smith, became the first horse since 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a two-year-old. (Apollo did it 136 years ago.)  Justify finished 2-1/2 lengths ahead of Good Magic in the 1-1/4 mile race. Audible was a close third.

Smith is the second oldest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby.  Jockey Bill Shoemaker won in 1986 on Ferdinand at age 54.

“Mendelssohn eased to the wire and walked off, 23-3/4 lengths behind Magnum Moon, which finished next to last after entering as another highly regarded contender,” the Associated Press reported.

Mendelssohn, a bay colt, was bred in Kentucky.  His sire was the late Scat Daddy (out of Johannesburg) and he is a half-brother of the retired Beholder, a four-time Eclipse Award winner, and Into Mischief, a multiple graded stakes winner.

Mendelssohn and Beholder “looked so much alike” said Clarkland Farm’s Fred Mitchell, who bred them both.

Mendelssohn was purchased for $3 million at the 2016 Keeneland Yearling Sale by Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor. Mendelssohn posted a modest 1-for-4 record to start his career in Europe but in November 2017 he won on grass at the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar, CA. Going into the Kentucky Derby, Mendelssohn was 4-1-0 in seven starts with earnings of more than $1.9 million. Mendelssohn was one of four nominees in 2017 for the title of Champion Two-Year-Old Colt but lost out to U S Navy Flag, who was trained by O’Brien and also owned by Smith, Magnier and Tabor.