What was supposed to be a simple visit to Riga turned out to be the end of Sweden’s WC. Latvia played great and despite 26 fewer shots on goal managed to win 3-1 in tonight’s quarter-final.
After a somewhat cool pressure on the stands during the previous match, Arena Riga showed a powerful atmosphere with almost full stands in the 10,000-seat arena. The home crowd was more than ready to see their team in a first quarter-final since 2018, a match that would hopefully give the team their first ever semi-final berth.
Tre Kronor chose to put Lasse Johansson in the goal, while some changes were made to the chains. Among other things, Jonatan Berggren, previously in the first chain, was moved to the position of extra forward. For Latvia, the obvious first choice Arturs Silovs was placed in the cage.
It was clear that there was a lot of emotion in the air during the match. To the chanting cheers of the crowd, Latvia got several shots at the Swedish goal where Johansson stood on the podium. Even Silovs had to work when Sweden made its attempts.
A Swedish dropped puck in their own zone resulted in a dangerous situation to 1-0 for Latvia, but even here Lasse was able to excel. Leo Carlsson was another name that showed up both in attack and defence. Even his companions in the first chain got some good situations.
Halfway into the period, Sweden had a large number of attacks with good chances for a lead goal. But it would be Latvia who had to put the first puck in the goal. Dans Locmelis was able to take advantage of a bouncing rebound thirteen minutes in and place it high over Johansson.
Latvia continued to press with several dangerous situations in front of the Swedish goal. The first sending off of the match was awarded to the home team’s Oskars Batna and Tre Kronor finally got the chance in numerical superiority. There were many shots on goal, but it was usually mushy in front of the goal and difficult to get all the way forward. Swedish lead in shots (13-8), but Latvian lead on the board into the break.
Sweden came out somewhat harder in the second period, but Latvia also kept the pace up. The first really hot situation came five minutes in when Carl Grundström put a hard shot straight on the goalkeeper’s shin guards.
Latvia again went on a send-off where the team did a strong job of clearing away the Swedish attacks. Marcus Sörensen had a shot from close range before they themselves were sent off shortly after Latvia were full.
Sweden coped with their box play very well and were able to make it four against four after half time. Here Timothy Liljegren stepped forward and was able to slam in 1-1 after a nice pass from Lucas Raymond. In the numerical superiority, Sweden continued to press and was even close to an expansion.
Latvia put pressure on Sweden, including in a great situation where Johansson was outplayed. But at the same time, Tre Kronor did a very good job of positioning itself correctly.
Towards the end of the period, the emotions showed on the ice where Martins Dzierkals was sent off after putting the club shaft in the face of Pär Lindholm. After video review, the Ceske Budejovice forward had to step off the ice for the evening while Sweden had to play numerically superior for the rest of the period.
Oscar Lindberg managed to get a shot into the goal area, but the goalkeeper managed to lay straight over the puck. Lucas Raymond also managed a nice shot before the signal sounded.
In terms of shots, Sweden was superior in the period, 13-1 and total numbers 26-9 for the entire match. Latvia looked somewhat more tired than at the start of the match and it was clear that the home team was finding it harder and harder to defend.
Sweden had to start the last period with a continued numerical superiority, but there was no goal here either. But shortly after the opponents became full, Sweden was able to get the puck in. However, the goal was ruled out due to a high stick.
Continued high tempo from both sides and some rough on the ice. In connection with Sweden turning the game over to the Latvian zone, Latvia was able to pick up the puck and manage it until Miks Indrasis made it 2-1 with just over a quarter to go.
Puck out for Latvia with eleven minutes left and Sweden once again got the chance to play the power play. There were many shots from Tre Kronor, but the speed of the passing game had to be increased somewhat. In the last seconds, the pace became higher, but at the same time the Latvians positioned themselves just right.
With eleven minutes left, Timothy Liljegren was sent off for holding and Tre Kronor had to play at a numerical disadvantage for the second time in the match. Here, Latvia continued to press and ten seconds before the team was again full, the 3-1 goal came from Janis Jaks. A shot from the blue line was placed in front of Johansson before bouncing over his leg and into the goal.
Sweden’s search for a reduction continued and with just over three minutes remaining, Johansson left the cage in favor of an extra player. However, the focus was not only forward, but they had to continue to back home to defend Latvia’s many attacks. The team was also close to scoring 4-1 in an empty net, but here Sweden was able to save at the last second.
Sweden’s timeout with two and a half minutes remaining may have given some new energy, but the much-needed goals never managed to come. This despite the fact that the team made 41 shots in the match, a number that can be compared to Latvia’s 15. Tre Kronor had to see themselves defeated by the upstart Latvia, who are now getting ready for their very first World Cup semi-final ever, this one against Canada.
Sweden – Latvia 1-3 (0-1, 1-0, 0-2)
12:56 0-1 Dans Locmelis (Miks Indrasis, Rihards Bukarts)
29:41 1-1 Timothy Liljegren (Lucas Raymond, Jonathan Pudas)
45:55 1-2 Miks Indrasis (Rihards Bukarts, Janis Jaks)
53:46 1-3 Janis Jaks (Miks Indrasis, Rihards Bukarts)
That’s how Sweden started
Henrik Tömmernes, , Timothy Liljegren
Leo Carlsson, Pär Lindholm, Lucas Raymond
Anton Lindholm, Jonathan Pudas
Carl Grundström, Oscar Lindberg, Fabian Zetterlund
Lukas Bengtsson, Patrik Nemeth
Alexander Nylander, Dennis Everberg, Linus Johansson
The Fourth Chain:
Jakob Silfverberg, Jacob de la Rose, Marcus Sörensen
Rasmus Sandin (injured)