The Swedish women’s hockey team survived a surprisingly tough effort from the underdog Slovakians to take a 6-2 victory on Monday in a preliminary round Olympic game at UBC Thunderbird Arena, in Vancouver.
Swedish forwards Pernilla Winberg and Elin Holmlov scored insurance goals in the third period, for Winberg it was a hat-trick marker, to put the game away.
However, the game started much closer than anticipated. Despite being out shot 15-5 in the first period, the Slovakians hung around.
Coming off a record-setting18-0 loss to Canada, they relied on amazing saves from Zuzana Tomcikova, who stopped 42 shots in total.
Slovakia’s Zuzana Tomcikova tied the game at the midway point of the first after Winberg had opened the scoring early for Sweden on the power play.
It was the first Olympic women’s hockey goal in Slovakia’s history.
Danijela Rundqvist took the lead back for Sweden on another power play at 12:11, but just over a minute later the pesky Slovaks evened things once more, with a great shot in the slot from Nicol Cupkova.
The Slovak bench went crazy and the enthusiastic celebration shocked the building as the Swedish silver medalists from Turin looked on. It was a wake up call.
Tre Kronor picked up the pace, and Jenni Asserholt ended the back-and-forth excitement, as she restored a one-goal cushion at 16:07 and it stayed 3-2 after one period.
From that point on, Slovakia’s defence gave way to more pressure and energy from Sweden who got strong as the game went on.
They owned the final 40 minutes, and special teams were a key for the Swedes who went three-for-eight with the extra skater, and killed off five penalties.
Sweden will now prepare for a date with the Canadians on Wednesday evening where they will require a much better effort for 60 minutes.
Slovakia will face Switzerland later that night.