Swede redemption
Huselius not only member of Flames cheering on Tre Kronor
RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

Asked if he'd heard the score of Sweden's game yesterday, Kristian Huselius didn't need to use words.

His ear-to-ear smile spoke volumes.

The Flames forward was practising at the Max Bell Centre while his countrymates were busy thumping the Czech Republic to advance to tomorrow's Olympic gold-medal final. But word quickly spread during the session.

"It's a big deal," Huselius said.

Sweden will face Finland in the gold-medal match.

Huselius' play after being traded to Calgary in early December may have warranted a spot on the Swedish roster but he said there wasn't too much disappointment about not being chosen.

"It would have been tough to make it," he said. "It would have been nice to have a chance but it's a great team. It'll be fun to watch the final."

Sweden's run to the gold-medal game is even more impressive when you consider which stars they're missing.

Markus Naslund didn't go to Turin, while Peter Forsberg has been trying to play through a groin injury and Mattias Ohlund left after suffering broken ribs.

"But they still have some great players," Huselius said.

"Mats Sundin always plays well for the national team and has always been unbelievable for Sweden."

It's a big switch from the 2002 Games for Sweden. Remember the stunning quarter-final loss to Belarus, capped by the floating shot that goaltender Tommy Salo botched?

While Canada's team at this year's game has been criticized for its performance, it hasn't been to the same degree faced by members of Sweden's 2002 club.

"Canada lost to Russia, that's always a close game. Sweden lost to Belarus and that's a big difference." Huselius explained.

"Canada played a really good team and you can't blame them too much. Of course, they didn't play well in the first round and that set them up for the tough game against Russia but that's how it is.

"Sweden played well the whole tournament four years ago, beat Canada in the first round and won the group but then lost to Belarus."

Huselius won't just have teammate Marcus Nilson to cheer with. After Canada was knocked out by Russia, Darren McCarty said he'd be pulling for Tre Kronor, leaving goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff in a minority pulling for Finland.

"I've got a couple of buddies on that team -- Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom," McCarty explained. "I went over there a couple of summers and like the country."

Don't bank on the Swedish supporters getting together to cheer.

After all, puck drops at 6 a.m. Calgary time.

"That's early. Maybe I'll see the last period," Huselius said with a laugh. "It would be fun to watch, though.

"I probably will get up."