Fri, May 09, 2003 - Page 24 News List

Sweden makes a sensational comeback

AP , HELSINKI, FINLAND

PJ Axelsson's 56th-minute goal capped Sweden's 6-5 win from 1-5 down against Finland Wednesday in one of the greatest comebacks in the world ice hockey championship's 93-year history.

"We had nothing to lose when trailing 5-1 and we started playing better and better after we got back to 5-4," Swedish coach Hardy Nilsson said. "We're sure happy to still be in the hockey tournament."

Finland's worst collapse before a stunned sellout crowd of 13,441 at Hartwall Arena upheld the Finns' record of never beating archrivals Sweden at home in the worlds, and their inability to win a championship medal at home in six attempts.

Sweden advanced to Friday's semifinals against defending champion Slovakia, which ousted Switzerland 3-1.

At Turku, top NHL sharpshooter Milan Hejduk had a goal and an assist while goalie Tomas Vokoun made 31 saves as the Czech Republic blanked Russia 3-0 and moved on to face Olympic champion Canada, which edged Germany 3-2 in overtime.

Finland led Sweden 5-1 after Teemu Selanne completed his hat-trick with a power-play goal at 6:44 in the second period.

Many fans were celebrating what they thought would be one of their most lopsided wins over their archrivals.

Then 80 second later, Jorgen Jonsson scored for Sweden, followed by NHL MVP candidate Peter Forsberg and Jonas Hoglund to make it 5-4 by the end of the session.

Finland introduced Pasi Nurminen in goal at the start of the third, but it didn't help.

Forsberg equalized with one of the most stunning goals in the tournament, going coast to coast and capping the great rush with a wraparound goal from a sharp angle.

"It was a nightmare finish for the Finnish team," said Finnish head coach Hannu Aravirta, who'd announced earlier he was retiring after these championships.

The Czechs earned sweet revenge after their bid last year for a fourth successive world title was ended in the quarters by Russia.

Hejduk, who led the NHL this season with 50 goals, assisted on the first by teammate Jan Hlavac. The Czechs then capitalized on Russia's indiscipline with a pair of power-play goals to Hejduk and Jaroslav Hlinka.

Canada blew a 2-0 third-period lead against Germany before it was saved in the four-on-four overtime -- a new rule at this year's event -- when Eric Brewer scored 37 seconds in. It was his first goal of the tournament.

Switzerland stunned the unbeaten Slovaks while the latter had two in the penalty box, by scoring first at 14:28 in the first period on Martin Pluss' backhander.

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