Few athletes are lucky enough to enjoy a moment of triumph while the whole world is watching. Forward Tomas Sandstrom experienced his moment in 1987 at the World Championship in Vienna. There were 90 seconds left to go in the final game between Sweden and the USSR and the Soviets were leading 2-1. Tre Kronor began their final attack. Hakan Loob, to the left of the Soviet goal, grabbed the puck and immediately passed it to Sandstrom in front of the net, who scored. The goal enabled the Swedes to eventually capture the World Championship. Spurred on by their tie with the USSR, Sweden crushed Canada 9ñ0 in the most stinging defeat the Canadians ever suffered at the hands of Tre Kronor, and in the end, Sweden won the gold medal 25 years after their triumph in Colorado Springs.
Sandstrom grew up fast. Born September 4, 1964, in Jakobstad, Finland, he first played for Fagersta AIK, then moved to the famed Brunes. At 20, he won the Olympic bronze at Sarajevo and three years later won the world gold in Vienna. He was also on the national team when it reached second place at the Canada Cup in 1984 and third place at the 1991 Canada Cup. His record is impressive. Sandstrom spent 15 seasons with the NHL, nearly matching the Swedish record-holder Borje Salming with 17 seasons. Sandstrom played for the Los Angeles Kings, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New York Rangers and the Detroit Red Wings. He played alongside the Wings "Russian Five" when they won the Stanley Cup in 1997. He then spent two years with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. At 35, in the fall of 1999, Sandstrom returned to Sweden so his children could be educated there. But he did not quit playing hockey. He joined Malmo, a team known for their tough and speedy style of play. At 6' 2" and 207 pounds, Sandstrom had no trouble meeting the demands of Malmo's coach. He adapted in no time and by February 2000 he had scored 16 goals and made 12 assists.
The Tre Kronor coaches invited the veteran to play in the Swedish nationals again. Sandstrom had previously played 73 games on the national team and scored 20 goals. At the finals, which proved unsuccessful for Tre Kronor, he added four games and two goals to his personal scorecard.