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Speedy Swedes start by overpowering Norway

There was no widespread elation from Sweden after its seven-goal clinic at Dwyer Arena. Standing in a row, players shrugged off their opening wipeout of Norway.

That's what happens after going silver-silver-bronze the last three years at the World Juniors. The Swedes have bigger plans than their 7-1 win Sunday.

"Of course we want to win [gold]," forward Patrick Cehlin said. "We're going to fight for it."

Almost immediately, Sweden turned its opener in front of 1,320 at Dwyer Arena into one continuous power play. Their feet slammed on the gas pedal all game, the Swedes outshot Norway, 46-11. The odd-man rushes never seemed to stop. Most likely, this blowout was an anomaly for Sweden. Norway isn't a worldwide manufacturer of hockey talent. The country has sent only five players to the NHL.

But this much is clear. Sweden, which has only one WJC gold (1981), will be a contender.

"We wanted to win the first game and follow our game plan," coach Roger Ronnberg said. "We can play better."

Hard to believe. The goal parade started immediately.

Back-to-back tallies by John Klingberg and Oscar Lindberg less than six minutes into the game put Norway in a hole its anemic offense would never claw out of, as Cehlin tacked on a pair of goals in the second to seal the win. The backbreaker came with only 16 seconds left in the period.

A shot from the left side pinballed off goalie Lars Volden's pads to Cehlin, who flipped it top shelf to give the Swedes a 4-0 lead.

Another John Klingberg goal, followed by goals by Gabriel Landeskog and Carl Klingberg, completed Sweden's rout. Per usual, Sweden's speed and finesse were on full display. That's how they'll combat Canada and Team USA, its players say -- speed. With spin moves to avoid Norway checks and tic-tac-toe passing to instantly recharge offensive rushes, the Swedes were nothing but a yellow blur against Norway.

"We had a good game," Cehlin said. "At first, guys were a little bit nervous. But we scored seven goals and they were pretty spread out."

Motivation won't be a problem. Plenty of new faces make up this year's Sweden team, but it's hard to tell. On Sunday, the Swedes appeared driven by the country's string of crushing World Junior finishes.

This winter, they hope to finish the job the past three Sweden teams started.

"We're getting closer," Ronnberg said. "You need to get beat a couple of times to know what it takes to win the last game."

e-mail: tdunne@buffnews.com

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