For a while, Sweden's women's hockey team was nipping at the heels of the North American powers. With a strong build from the back end forward, it seemed like they were on the right track to upset some of the dominant powers on the international scene.
Then, the Swedish federation decided it would be a good idea to cut their funding, resulting in Damkronorna's first-ever relegation to Division I-A in the 2019 Worlds. From there, it's been frustration after frustration as tourneys were cancelled and adjusted due to the pandemic.
It's been three whole years since Sweden have been bumped down, and with their chance finally having come in 2023, they've clawed back into the top division and are looking to cement their place, this time with a mix of veterans and fresh young talent. Let's take a look at what they're bringing to the table.
#8 Hilda Svensson; #11 Josefin Bouveng; #15 Lisa Johansson; #17 Sofie Lundin; #19 Sara Hjalmarsson; #20 Fanny Rask; #21 Lova Blom; #22 Hanna Thuvik; #23 Ebba Hedqvist; #24 Felizia Wikner-Zienkiewicz; #25 Lina Ljungblom; #26 Hanna Olsson; #29 Olivia Carlsson
There are some young, young players in this forward corps who have tons of talent. Svensson and Hedqvist make the jump over from the Under-18 squad, where each of them (especially Svensson, a point-per-game player in this season's U18 tourney) were electric offensively. And they're all of 16 years old. Yes, really. Not to be outdone are 19-year-old Lova Blom, who shows promise as a two-way player, and a near-point-per-game force in 21-year-old Lina Ljungblom (17 goals and 30 points in 32 games for MoDo).
#2 Paula Bergström; #3 Anna Kjellbin; #4 Linnéa Andersson; #5 Annie Silén; #6 Josefine Holmgren; #7 Mira Jungaker; #10 Nathalie Lidman; #12 Maja Nylén Persson
Nylén Persson is the big standout offensively for this blueline corps, having put up 48 points in 32 games for the SDHL's Brynäs IF and proving herself on both ends of the ice. As far as stay-at-home presence goes, both Andersson and Anna Kjellbin (who has served as an alternate captain) look like they're in a good position to anchor in that regard.
#1 Sara Grahn; #20 Emma Söderberg; #25 Tindra Holm
Grahn is the clear veteran in this trio, making her return to the national team after sitting out much of the season. It looks like she's been splitting some pre-tournament ice time with Söderberg, but I would imagine she takes more of a mentoring role with the two younger netminders. Still, don't count her out for the top spot.
For her part, Söderberg has been strong between the pipes not just for the national team, but in her college career as well with the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Most recently year four with the Bulldogs saw her put up a .938 save percentage and a GAA of 1.39 per game, which is excellent. Holm is also a member of the upstart Long Island University, who made their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament this season. Sweden has historically been stronger on the back end than the front, so I foresee some solid saves from whoever's in net here.
April 5: GER-SWE, 7 PM EST
April 8: SWE-HUN, 11 AM EST
April 9: FIN-SWE, 11 AM EST
April 11: SWE-FRA, 3 PM EST