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Adrian Kempe and Team Sweden Take Home Gold from 2018 World Championship
In his inaugural experience with the Sweden men's national team, Adrian Kempe is heading home with some new hardware
Adrian Kempe wouldn't have been too young to remember the last time Sweden faced Switzerland in a gold medal final. It came in 2013, when the LA Kings forward was just 16.
He certainly isn't about to forget the latest meeting, either.
Not with a golden reminder proudly draped around his neck.
Kempe, now 21, helped Sweden to a first-place finish at the 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark.
And in his inaugural experience with the men's national program, no less.
"It feels great," said Kempe, who despite his inexperience on the level had eight points (two goals, six assists) in 10 games - fifth on Sweden's entry in scoring and a share of 24th overall in tournament scoring.
"First time for me being over here playing for the men's national team. I'm just proud to be selected by the coaches and staff. All the guys have been great. All the guys have been great for me and helped me all tournament.
"It's a great feeling."
The win came in the most dramatic of fashions.
Shootout, of course.
Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg scored the decisive goal and Vancouver Canucks goaltender slammed the door on Minnesota Wild forward Nino Niederreiter to secure the victory, a 3-2 decision for Sweden over Switzerland at Royal Arena in Copenhagen on Sunday, that couldn't be resolved in 80 minutes of ice time.
"It's an amazing feeling," said Kempe, who also has a Calder Cup title to his name with the Manchester Monarchs, then the Kings' American Hockey League affiliate, in 2015.
"It was a tight game. Went to a shootout. Our goalie made some great saves. We finally won.
"That was our goal before we came here and we did it.
"It feels really good."
Kempe, of course, has skated internationally on plenty of occasions.
He's no stranger to the international stage, after all.
Kempe has taken spins with Sweden's gold medal entry at the World Under-17 Challenge in 2013, scoring one of his five goals at the tournament in the final.
He had three points (two goals, one assist), at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, and was third in team scoring at the 2014 World Under-18 Championship, a fourth-place finish, too.
He added two appearances at the World Junior Championship, coming in 2015 and 2016. In 2015, he finished third in scoring with eight points (four goals, four assists), and second with eight points (three goals, five assists) in 2016.
But his latest experience easily trumps them all.
Understandably, it trumps any hockey experience he's had to date, in fact.
"For sure," said Kempe, who had 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) in 81 games with the Kings - his first full season in the NHL.
"It's another level. You play against all the best players here, and you play with such good players as well. We had such a great team, too, in the tournament.
"Obviously it's the best thing that's ever happened."
He'll forever have proof.
"It's pretty heavy, so my neck is pretty sore right now," he said.
Chances are, he doesn't mind.