How Swede It Is!

Former Rampage goaltender Jacob Markstrom has racked up quite an impressive trophy case from his time representing Team Sweden at international tournaments.

There’s the silver medal from the 2009 World Junior Championships, in which Markstrom also was named the tournament’s best goaltender, and the pair of bronze medals from the 2010 World Junior Championships and the 2010 Men’s World Championships.

On May 19th, the Swedish netminder added a gold medal to his list of accomplishments, as Team Sweden bagged the gold at the Men’s World Championships held in Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland. With a 5-1 victory over Switzerland and an 8-2-0 overall record in the tournament, Sweden became the first home team to win gold since 1986.

Markstrom started three games for Sweden and posted a 2-0-0 record. The 6-foot-6 goaltender also appeared in two additional games, wrapping up the tournament with a 2-0-0 record and a 0.934 save percentage and a 1.58 goals against average in a backup role for the eventual gold-medal winners.

The Rampage caught up with Markstrom to talk about his experience at World Championships…

How exciting was it to win the gold medal on your home ice in front of your home crowd?
Whenever you get to play for your country it’s really big. With the tournament in Sweden my family was able to come out to a lot of the games. We struggled a little bit in the group rounds, but we started playing well at the right time. We got the Sedin twins from Vancouver towards the end of the tournament and that helped. We had a lot of guys contribute and step up throughout the tournament.

Personally, how would you evaluate your play in the tournament?
It’s definitely different playing on the Olympic size ice. It does change the game a little bit. I didn’t play as well as I would have liked. Obviously every time I go out there I don’t want to allow any goals and I want to win every game. We went with (Jhonas) Enroth as the starter and the two of us have a good relationship. We push each other and we really had a good vibe in the locker room. Supporting each other like we did was really important because we were able to go out there and play loose and have fun.

It seemed like the team had a good combination of veteran guys mixed it with some of the younger guys…
Yea, we had a good mix of guys. We had our veterans kind of leading the way and then we had a good group of young players. I hadn’t been to World Championships in three years and it was really exciting to see some of the young players who have been developing in Sweden. Those young guys really stepped up.

How special is it for you to put on the Team Sweden jersey?
It’s really big. You always feel pride whenever you put on the jersey of your national team. Having the tournament in Sweden made it extra special to be able to play in front of our home fans. I grew up watching Sweden play in the Olympics and in World Championships. I always wanted to be on those teams. Now I’ve played in two World Championships. It’s a special feeling. We all wear the Sweden jersey with a lot of pride.

From the photos, it looked like the team had quite a parade after winning the gold. It was reported that 20,000 fans showed up to celebrate…
Yea, we had a big celebration the next day with the royal family in Stockholm at the Royal Palace. I had actually never been there before so it was a cool experience. We were all pretty tired after the tournament, but it’s not every day you get to share a glass of champagne with the royal family. 

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