International Ice Hockey Federation

06/24/2017 | News release | Distributed by Public on 06/24/2017 11:36

Nils Nilsson, 1936-2017

Nils 'Dubbel-Nisse' Nilsson, one of Sweden's greatest international players, died today in hospital in Sweden after a brief illness. He was 81.

Nilsson was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2002 in honour of a career that included two gold medals, two silver, and two bronze in seven World Championships and an Olympic silver medal from the 1964 Games in Innsbruck.

Nilsson is most famous for one game in particular, though. On 13 March 1962, during the World Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Nilsson helped Tre Kronor defeat Canada, 5-3. It marked the first win by Sweden over the powerhouse Canadians in 13 tries going back to 1931.

Nilsson scored one goal early in the second period to make it 3-0, and then Canada mounted a ferocious comeback that was stymied by an empty-netter from Nilsson. The radio call by announcer Lennart Hylands is Sweden's equivalent to Foster Hewitt's 'Henderson has scored for Canada!' or Al Michaels's 'Do you believe in miracles?'

Hylands screamed, 'Den glider in i maal! Den glider in i m-a-a-l!!' as Nilsson's shot slid into the empty net and assured Sweden of the historic win. Sweden went on to win all seven games in 1962 and claim gold.

Although Nilsson played Swedish league hockey for many years, notably with Forshaga, his city of birth, and Leksands IF, he first rose to prominence at the 1957 World Championship. On the final day, Tre Kronor played the Soviets with gold on the line, and Nilsson scored the opening goal to help Sweden play to a 4-4 tie, good enough for gold.

Nilsson also played on the bronze-medal teams in 1958 and 1965 and the silver-medal teams in 1963 and 1967. As well, he was named the Best Forward at the 1960 Olympics despite the team finishing a disappointing fifth.

After retiring as a player, Nilsson remained very active in the game, working as a product developer for Jofa, Sweden's most famous manufacturer. He was inducted into the Swedish Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012 and is a member of the 'Big Boys' club established by the Swedish Ice Hockey Association.

ANDREW PODNIEKS