Canada goes home from the Olympics without a men’s ice hockey medal for the first time in 16 years.
Lucas Wallmark struck midway through the third period as Sweden beat Canada 2-0 in the quarterfinals at Wednesday’s games in Beijing.
Lars Johanssen made 22 saves for the Swedes, who will meet the Russian Olympic Committee in Friday’s semifinals. Anton Lander added the clincher to the empty net.
Matt Tomkins made 24 stops for Canada.
Wallmark’s winner came from a sloppy sequence for the Canadians in which Andrew McBain and Eric O’Dell failed to get the puck out of the defending zone. Pulling out the latter, Wallmark fired a shot from Tyler Wotherspoon’s bat and past Tomkins with 9:45 remaining on the rule.
CLOCK | Full Event Replay Canada vs Sweden:
Canada tried to press, but Lander iced it with Tomkins on the bench for an extra attacker with less than two minutes left.
The goal tied Wallmark with Slovakia’s Juraj Slavkovsky for the tournament lead at five.
Thursday marked the countries’ first meeting at the Olympics since the 2014 gold medal final in Sochi, when Canada beat Sweden 3-0.
NHLers did not participate due to COVID concerns
That was also the last time NHLers stepped onto the ice at a game.
The league skipped the 2018 event for financial reasons before withdrawing from 2022 because COVID-19 concerns forced dozens of postponements and messed up its December schedule.
CLOCK | Highlights: Sweden eliminates Canada in Men’s Ice Hockey Quarter:
Sweden advanced to the quarter-finals in Beijing in No. 4, while Canada had to play an extra game in Tuesday’s qualifying round – a 7-2 win over China – after finishing fifth out of 12 teams in the round robin.
Canada won Olympic gold with its NHL players in 2010 and 2014 before securing bronze four years ago with a roster of mostly European-based professionals. The country’s NHLers lost to Russia in the 2006 quarterfinals after 2002 saw them top the podium for the first time in 50 years.
Despite Canada winning three of its four games before Wednesday night at the National Indoor Stadium – including two wins against a Chinese program making its Olympic debut as hosts – Canada never really got off the ground in Beijing.
Mason McTavish, the Anaheim Ducks’ No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 draft, had just one assist despite playing up front with Eric Staal, who is seeking an NHL contract, but failed to impress much like his team in the competition.
Josh Ho-Sang – who is considered another offensive threat ahead of the tournament – started alongside Staal and McTavish but was demoted to 13th forward after two games.
Owen Power, the Buffalo Sabers’ top pick of 2021, had some early troubles but grew into the tournament as games progressed on the best defensive pair.
The Canadians lost to the United States in a round-robin match, forcing them to bid for the qualifying round against China. Canada got the job done but were underwhelming, especially at the start, before taking on the rested Swedes just 24 hours later.
While Sweden meets the ROC in one semifinal, Slovakia, who defeated the United States in the quarterfinals with a 3-2 shootout victory, meets Finland in the other semifinal.
CLOCK | Highlights: ROC leads Denmark to reach men’s ice hockey semifinals:
Goals were scored in the 3rd period
And while Tomkins and Edward Pasquale were mostly solid in goal, the fact that Devon Levi — the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championships MVP and a big-numbers NCAA hitter — didn’t stop for a minute both in China and at home action .
“An amazing experience, an incredible honor to be here at the Olympics and to have the chance to wear the maple leaf and represent the country. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Tomkins said after the loss.
Tomkins, a 27-year-old from Edmonton in his first season with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League, had to make a good save after Canada iced the puck seven seconds into the first period.
The North Americans came out and batted on the smaller NHL ice, but the Swedes didn’t back down and delivered their fair share in return.
CLOCK | Highlights: Finland miss Switzerland in semifinals:
Canada saved a penalty for an overzealous McBain goal, while Sweden did the same later in half-time against a power play that tied four times against China on Tuesday.
The grueling chess match continued into the second round before Sweden had a couple of chances that once again required Tomkins to be sharp.
The Canadian goaltender stopped Pontus Holmberg on the doorstep before also blocking Lander, who played 215 games for the Edmonton Oilers.
Johansson didn’t have much to do at the other end for 40 minutes but struggled through on a point shot that hit his blocker and was loose just past Sweden’s goalkeeper before choking the puck.
Landon Ferraro ran on the third line for Canada in his first action of the tournament after Ben Street suffered an awkward strike from China captain Brendan Yip late in the qualifying round game.
The gold medal game is scheduled for Saturday at 11:10 p.m. ET at the National Indoor Stadium.
You can watch every game in the tournament live or on-demand on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports App or on CBC Gem.