SLAM!Sports
February 25, 2006
Oh, how Swede it is for Alfie
By BRUCE GARRIOCH

TURIN -- Daniel Alfredsson was smiling as the sweat poured down his face yesterday.

Soon enough, that smile will be accompanied by an Olympic medal.

The Senators captain isn't sure what colour it'll be, but he'd much rather hang gold around his neck.

For the first time since 1994, the Swedes will have a shot at gold after a 7-3 victory over the Czech Republic yesterday. The gold-medal game, against Finland, will be played tomorrow.

"This feels good. We came here wanting to win a gold medal and now we've got a shot at it," said Alfredsson. "We're excited, but we've got another step."

Alfredsson made a big-time contribution yesterday. His goal in the dying minutes of the second seemed to deflate the Czechs, who had fallen behind 5-1 but closed the gap to 5-3 and were pressing for more.

"That sixth goal by Alfredsson was a killer," said Swedish coach Bengt Gustafsson.

Yes, the goal was worth its weight in gold.

It was knife in the backs of the Czechs, who thought they were going to pull off some kind of miracle against a Swedish team that has been accused of choking.

Playing alongside Samuel Pahlsson and P.J. Axelsson -- his linemates in Goteborg, Sweden during the lockout -- Alfredsson took a perfect pass from Axelsson and put the puck past Tomas Vokoun. You could hear the sigh of relief all the way from Stockholm.

'I was yelling pretty loud'

"I was pretty happy to get that one," said Alfredsson. "I was all alone in front and I was yelling pretty loud for the puck."

Could the result have been different if Dominik Hasek had still been around? Was Alfredsson glad Hasek was watching in his living room in Ottawa (at the same time hoping he'll be healthy for the Senators sometime soon)? "Yes, because he's the kind of goalie who can get into your head and he can steal a game," said Alfredsson.

Alfredsson is aware a chance like this doesn't come along often. He wants to bring home an Olympic gold medal and then have a shot at the Stanley Cup in June.

Any thoughts of the Cup are on the backburner for the next 48 hours. The Swedes want to treasure this shot at an Olympic gold and keep their focus in one direction.

While the core group of players is aging -- Peter Forsberg, Mats Sundin, Nik Lidstrom and Alfredsson -- Sweden hasn't won an Olympic gold since 1994. This may be its shot for awhile.

"We know that we've got a lot of talent on this team, but we're also not sure if a lot of this group is going to be together again," said Alfredsson.

It seems like everybody in Sweden remembers where they were in '94 when Forsberg, with a behind-the-back move, scored on Canada's Corey Hirsch in the shootout.

"I was living at my parents house and watching it on television," said Alfredsson.

Was that the most dramatic moment in Swedish hockey history?

"They made a stamp out of it for a reason," said Alfredsson.

Tomorrow, Alfredsson can put his own stamp on the history of Swedish hockey.


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