Yesterday saw the end of the Olympic Dream for four teams as the first of the classifications games took place. With Sweden facing a Unified Korea for 7th place, while not for the glitz and glory of gold medals or even for bronze, it was not without serious repercussions for both the teams involved.
With Sweden fighting to avoid last place, they were quick to get on the board with Sabian Kuller scoring just five minutes into the game. As the period progressed they would continue to pile on the shot attempts in the direction of Korean goaltender Sojung Shin, recording 20 shot attempts alone in the first frame.
What wasn’t planned would be the equalizer from Korea just 30 seconds after the Kuller goal, and 13 seconds after Johanna Fallman took an elbowing penalty for Sweden. Soojin Han doubled Korea’s tournament goal total, scoring their second of this Olympic games. The roof lifted off the building yet again as Korea roared to the support of their Unified team for the last game.
And when Jingyu Lee almost managed to capitalize on a turnover right in front of the Swedish net, there was a feeling, if only for a moment, that Korea could actually take their first lead of the tournament before the resounding sound of the crossbar echoed around the building.
Sweden scored a second goal in the dying seconds of the first when Emmy Alasalmi capitalized on the power play, going low blocker side to beat Shin to send Sweden into the intermission with a narrow one-goal lead.
The play grew even more lopsided in the second period, with Korea only managing two shots, both of them relatively low danger from beyond the hash marks. Meanwhile, Sweden piled on the pressure, recording another 22 shot attempts as Shin stood tall in net. The final straw was a picture-perfect tic-tac-toe passing play as Nordin, Rask and Grahm glided through the offensive zone before Grahm tipped it in blocker side for Sweden’s third goal of the night.
Sweden scored three more goals in the final period- one for Svedin, one for Rask, and one for Johansson as the Damkronorna swarmed, the final score standing at 6-1.
Korea tried their hardest to push back, but that would be the end of the fairy tale for the home team as the final buzzer sounded, their Olympic dream over for now. It seems unlikely that they will be making a second trip to the Olympics, at least not in time for Beijing. For now, however, they were cheered off by the home crowd waving a sea of blue and white flags.
The story on the Swedish side of the ice was a different one- they were disappointed despite the win. The seventh place finish is their worst finish in Olympic history. While Sweden will now finally escape the Leif Boork era, it was too late for this iteration of the team. Now all they can do is look forward—to the next World Championships, to the next Olympics, to a chance for redemption after recording what is historically their worst season in program history. The only place for this team to go is up.