For Henrik Tallinder of the New Jersey Devils the off-season has been a lot sweeter than his time on the ice after the NHL lockout finally ended in January. The Swedish defenseman struggled for much of the year and often found himself sitting in the stands instead of on the bench.
However, the early end to the Devils’ season gave the 34-year-old the opportunity to suit up for his native country in the 2013 World Championships. This year Sweden served as a host nation along with Finland with the finals being held in Stockholm yesterday. The Swedish team made their nation proud by grabbing its ninth title as well as becoming the first host team to bring home the gold in 27 years. The last team to win in front of their own crowd was the Soviet Union who did it in 1986.
It was a fantastic tournament for the star-studded Swedish team which featured the Sedin brothers from the Vancouver Canucks and Jhonas Enroth of the Buffalo Sabres. The team went 5-2 in the preliminary rounds and beat Canada and Finland to reach the finals against the surprise team from Switzerland.
Enroth made 26 saves in the gold medal game as Henrik Sedin netted two goals and added an assist as the Swedes dominated the Swiss in a 5-1 cake walk to the gold. For the Swiss who were undefeated in the tournament until the final, the silver medal was the first one in 60 years.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Tallinder said in an interview with The Associated Press. “As soon as we got our legs and got that first goal, I thought we controlled the game pretty well. We were slow out of the gates, but after the second goal I felt we had control over the game. The Swiss haven’t had many times they’ve been down.”
Overall, it was a great competition for Tallinder who was able to take win gold in front of his hometown crowd. “You can’t put it into words,” Tallinder gushed.