SHL in English

The purpose of this blog is to give our international visitors a helping hand in and around the Swedish Hockey League. Therefore the blog is entirely written in English and aimed towards an international audience. If you wish to contact the staff, use [email protected]!

2016-02-02 15:14:00 | Okategoriserat

Weekly wrap from SHL

What has happened in Karlskrona? Bugs Bunny has been down there to visit and filled their water bottles with Michael Jordan’s ‘Secret Stuff’ and has got them playing like Monstars. It is amazing what a team can do with a little self-confidence. After getting dusted 8-1 by Växjö in their last game of 2015 Karlskrona have been somewhat of a new troop with a new attitude, and their recent results have now amplified that. Taking all 9 points on offer this week, after only previously managing 1 regulation win all season, has the men from Blekinge on cloud nine. Their week’s performance puts them on a four game winning streak and can even be stretched to 5 wins from their last six games. But what makes this all so interesting is that if you take a look back you could say that it was actually a long time coming, maybe not to this degree, but a bit of fortune was overdue.

Since the start of January Karlskrona have been in every fight they have been match up against. They had three tight losses to Färjestad, Rögle and Djurgården before snagging an overtime win against MODO which kick-started the bike that they are riding right now. Confidence can be one of those unexplainable things in life, when you have it, the puck bounces your way and you manage to win games, when you don’t, the more you struggle the more you sink into the sand.

– We played very good SHL hockey today, and yesterday, says Karlskrona coach Pelle Hånberg. We have sent a signal to ourselves and maybe to others that we can play good hockey when we play this way.

In their six game stretch, goalies Linus Fernström and especially Johan Holmqvist, who has played in all 5 wins, have lifted their game with a 93.10 save percentage, which is 6.10 higher than their season average as a pair. On offence, the aggression has picked up a little, but they still haven’t won a shot count since finding their winning ways. What has happened though, is their shooting efficiency has gone through the roof. In their last six, Karlskrona have been accurate when shooting the puck and have taken advantage of their chances with a 15.97 shooting efficiency. To put that into perspective, Frölunda are the league’s most effective shooters at 12.04 percent on the year.

Now the law of averages tells us that Karlskrona are not likely to hold on to their impressive stats, but with any luck on their side it will plateau somewhere between how they started the year and how they have performed the last 2 weeks. Which should give them courage they will need in the fight to stay in the SHL for another year.

The Good

It is all good in Karlskrona right now, and it is hard to go past the miraculous offensive depth that they have found this week. Alexander Bergström hit the back of the net 4 times and has found a chemistry with Joel Kellman and Filip Cruseman that put on a show for their fans with some spectacular goals. The trio’s performance was also matched by the line of Joachim Rohdin, Riley Holzapfel and Jesper Olofsson, who also scored 5 goals between them. The awakening of Karlskrona’s second and third line has now shown the league that they can play and are not going to be an easy beat at the back-end of the season.

The SHL got one of its stars back last week in the form of 2014 point king Pär Arlbrandt, who has spent the last two years playing for Biel in the Swiss league. Arlbrandt scored 71 points in the 2013-14 campaign with Linköping, but has now returned to the club where his professional career began, in Jönköping, for HV71.

– It feels great, it's been full speed ahead. I've been around a lot over the years, but it's a special feeling to be back where it all started and where I grew up, explains Pär Arlbrandt.

The Bad

The ‘HudaShow’ was cancelled this week after a nightmare performance in all 3 games for Örebro. In his team’s first 2 losses of the week to Luleå and Karlskrona, last season’s goaltender of the year, Julius Hudacek managed a dismal 84.11 average save percentage. He then came in to relief for his goaltending partner Henrik Lundberg, who let in 5 first period goals in the second leg of their back-to-back with Karlskrona over the weekend, although, Hudacek couldn’t do much better himself, playing out his two periods with a 76.92 save percentage.

The poor goaltending performance lead to 3 straight losses and 0 points this week for Örebro, who are now beginning to live on the edge and flirt with their play-in competitors below them.

The Ugly

American T.J Galiardi has not played for Malmö since going down with a groin injury against Örebro in early January. The club has now messaged that Galiardi with fly home to the States to finish his rehabilitation there and is not likely to return this season.

– It is disappointing that I cannot play, but injuries are part of hockey. I have tried in recent weeks, to come back to play. With the injury I have, unfortunately it has not been possible, and right now it feels like the end of the season, says Galiardi.

 

 
 

2016-01-26 16:16:00 | Okategoriserat

Weekly wrap from SHL

In a week that could have easily ended up with two straight losses without any shame, Linköping staked their claim as a true playoff contending by earning all six points, in commanding fashion, knocking off the SHL’s top two teams, Frölunda 5-0 and Skellefteå AIK 5-2. Linköping’s North American stars erupted this week, being lead by Garrett Roe with 3 goals and 4 assists and the in-form Rhett Rakhshani who netted 4 goals and provided 3. Chad Billins and Andrew Gordon tallied 3 assists each in their club’s 2 matches. 

With 5 goals in both games against the league’s two best defensive teams, emulates how potent the offense of Linköping can be when everything is on song, especially on the powerplay. Scoring 4 powerplay goals against Frölunda and 1 against Skellefteå, Linköping netted 5 from 8 opportunities with the extra man, coming up to standard that was expected of the PP at the start of the season.

After a somewhat injury riddled season for coach Dan Tangnes North American signings, he has now been able to find a combination that produces offence game in and game out. It appears that having Rakhshani, Roe and Gordon all healthy and on the same line is what is needed to get the best out of trio. Also, with the option of having Niklas Persson blended in on the powerplay, it only makes things more difficult and daunting for their opponents. 

– This week we have been a fantastic hockey team, but there are more games ahead, said LHC assistant coach Klas Östman. We are extremely happy with our defensive and offensive play.

The Good

The hat-tricks keep rolling in these days, with another two outstanding three goal games on Saturday by two different Americans. The first came in the 4pm game in Linköping’s 5-0 win against Frölunda, when Rhett Rakhshani scored a natural hat-trick in the second period, scoring three consecutive goals. His hat-trick tops off what has been an emphatic return from injury where he has given Linköping even more offensive firepower, scoring 14 points in his last 10 games.

Saturday’s second hat-trick came from Djurgården’s Matt Anderson in his team’s 5-2 win against Malmö at Hovet. Anderson has found a special combination with Norwegian Patrik Thoresen, who assisted two of his three goals throughout the evening. The pair’s chemistry has begun to flourish recently and has been a large contributing factor to Anderson’s recent point tally of 4 goals and 4 assists in the last 4 games.

– A lot of these goals are the by-product of other people working hard. It is always nice to see when someone else is working hard. Maybe it’s not the goal but it is the work that doesn’t go on the score sheet that is even better for me then scoring the goal, explains Matt Anderson to Djurgården TV after his 3 goal haul.

The Bad

It is not very often that Skellefteå AIK lose two games in a row, actually it is just the third time this season that it has happened, which has them in their poorest form streak of the year winning just 1 game of their last 4. Their 2-5 loss two Linköping on Thursday was compiled by their most lack luster  performance of the year, when they went down 3-4 in overtime to wooden-spooners Karlskrona. After trailing twice in the game you could almost say that they were lucky to get away with salvaging a point from the game and that justice was served when Julien Brouillette scored just 35 secends into OT. 

To make matters worse, Skellefteå forward, Patrik Zackrisson summed up his team’s frustration when he won himself a game misconduct at the end of the third period after abusing the officials regarding a slashing penalty he received.

The Ugly

It was another week full of undisciplined play with 6 players being sent to the disciplinary committee. Both Skellefteå’s Jimmie Ericsson (2 games) and Färjestad’s Johan Rhyno (2+1 games) have already received their suspensions for cross-checking and slew-footing respectively. Awaiting decisions are Modo’s Joel Kwiatkowski (cross-checking to the head), Djurgården’s Tomi Sallinen (checking to the head), Skellefteå’s Alexander Urbom (checking to the head) and Adam Burish (slashing).

 
 

2016-01-20 14:45:00 | Weekly reviews

Weekly wrap from SHL

When the fireworks erupt on December 31st, we all make resolutions that most of us don’t ever fulfil. Without being in and amongst the club, it is certain Rögle BK’s NYE resolution was to find some consistency and stay out of the kvlaserien in 2016. Although they haven’t been lighting anything on fire, they look to be finding some better form to start the new year with a 2 win 2 loss record and 3 wins out of their last 5.

As the old proverb goes, ‘every dog has its day’ and that day for Rögle was last Saturday, beating league leaders Frölunda 6-3. Sure, Frölunda came back with vengeance the following day, but the character to regain control of their match, on Saturday, after already dropping a 2-0 lead showed that men from Ängelholm deserve to be fighting with the best in Sweden.

With the defensive, counter-attack style of hockey that Rögle play, it is important that they are disciplined, and they have shown that if they stay out of the penalty box they are more likely to win games. In 2016 they have sat in the penalty box on average just 3 times per game, which is an improvement considering they have taken the second most 2 minute penalties throughout the season. On the other hand, Rögle’s powerplay is up 26.89 percent in 2016, scoring 5 goals from 11 opportunities.

The Skåningen’s strong finish to 2015 and more consistent start to 2016 has given them an almost comfortable, but definitely not safe, 11 point buffer between themselves and MODO Hockey who lie underneath the qualification round. With 18 games left to play in the SHL anything can, and probably will happen, but if Rögle can continue to improve they may be able to manage the gap that they have built on those below them.

The Good

Rögle’s win was definitely a highlight of the week, and it was always going to take a super-human performance for the Ängelholm club to knock off the SHL’s best team. Ludvig Rensfeldt took it upon himself to give his team the best start possible against Frölunda, sneakily slotting 1-0 and 2-0 on the short side of Lars Johansson in the first period. He then went on to score the game winner late in the second period with a clinical wrister glove side, to what eventually put the result out of reach.

- It is all about self-confidence. It isn’t that I am a better hockey player than I was a week ago. I just feel more sure when I get chances, explained the hat-trick hero, Ludvig Rensfeldt after his performance.

The Bad

Växjö’s title defence continues to roll in waves in 2015-16, with the club now being dumped into the sand, losing the last 3 consecutive games. For the majority of the season, Växjö’s offence has been carried by what must be the now the tired shoulders of Richard Gynge, Robert Rosén and Tuomas Kiiskinen. Without the depth that they had last season, Växjö were always going to struggle if their first-line began to go cold, and as it so happens, that is where they are at right now. They have only managed to net 3 goals in their last 3 games, which is always going to make it hard to get a victory. Compile that with a boxplay percentage of 40 and a powerplay that has allowed 2 short-handed goals against, one more than they have scored themselves, it is no wonder why they are struggling in Småland right now.

The Ugly

The SHL took a big hit this week, losing arguably the league’s best Swedish star. Brynäs captain Anton Rödin collided with a teammate on Tuesday, at training, and was rushed to the hospital. After evaluation the doctor informed Rödin and the club that one of his thigh muscles had detached from his knee and he would require surgery. After the operation Rödin will need to undergo at least 8 weeks of rehabilitation putting him out of action for the rest of the season.

Rödin has been a prolific goal and point scorer this season, leading the league in both categories for the majority of the season. His 16 goals and 37 points has gained him much respect in Sweden and around the world and his injury could not come at a worse time for him or his club, as the season begins the final stretch towards the playoffs.

 
 

2016-01-14 16:30:00 | Okategoriserat

Weekly wrap from SHL


Foto: Peter Skaugvold / BILDBYRÅN

It was a treacherous start to the year for Luleå HF, nobody missed that, but with all the talk this season focused on Skellefteå and Frölunda the Norrbotteners have been creeping their way up the table and have become the league’s hottest team. In the first quarter of the year all of Luleå’s ambition overwhelmed them, they had high hopes for their season but missed the mark miserably. Once the dust settled on the media storm that put them under pressure, Luleå have conscientiously been working towards the perfection that they promised from the get-go.

Many coaches like to assess their team’s performance in stages of 10 games, to get a more complete and overall view of their club’s form. In the Luleå’s last 10 games they have gone 8-0-1-1 topping the league with 25 points out of a possible 30, which has brought them up into the hunt for third place in the standings.

What has changed? Well that is simple, defence. Coach Joakim Fagervall has got the team playing a much more defensive game of hockey, and they have learnt to win the tight ones. All of Luleå’s 8 wins have been by less than 2 goals and five of those have been 1 goal victories. It may have taken some time, but the superstar filled line up understand what is required of them defensively, and it works. The Luleå goaltenders have faced the least amount of shots against them than any other pairing in the league, in the last 10 games, and have allowed only 19 goals against (2nd in SHL) from those 231 shots-on. This is a credit to the goalies, but it is also a credit to the defence, who have stood in front and blocked 132 shots themselves.

– We have more solid defence right now and we play as a team more, right at the moment, than we did before. We had a lot of new guys to begin the season and I think we are more convicted to each other. We have confidence right now. It is easier to play, said coach Fagervall at the beginning of their 10 game run back in November.

The Good

It took 430 games, but, eventually Mikael Johansson was able to write some personal history by recording his first ever hat-trick in Sweden’s top hockey division. Johansson came to Färjestad BK’s rescue with a super-human performance after falling behind to Karlskrona 1-0 after the first period last Thursday. The veteran scored 3 goals, 2 of those on the powerplay, and was the last passer to Robbie Earl’s goal, swinging the game back into the Karlstad club’s favour, avoiding what would have been an embarrassing performance. Johansson was obviously happy to help his team get the win and even happier to do it in such fashion, finally scoring his first hat-trick in the SHL.

– It feels good to do your first hat-trick after a few hundred matches, said a humorous Johansson to his club’s webpage.

The Bad

Malmö IF have not had an easy first year in the SHL winning just 12 games this season, finding it hard to put together consecutive strong performances. Although they sit above the qualification series line, at the moment, the rest of the season will see them fighting with MODO and Rögle in a battle for certain survival in the SHL. Malmö General Manager, Patrik Sylvegård has reacted to what he must see as a dangerous situation for the club, testing his luck on the player market bringing in 2 new recruits from rival clubs.

American Adam Burish had not completely found his feet in Växjö this season, but may be just what Malmö need to lift their chances of staying another year in the SHL. Burish brings over 300 NHL games experience and bucket full of leadership skills that a struggling Malmö requires. Complimenting Burish, is defenceman Oliver Bohm, who makes the move from Frölunda HC. Bohm has played 15 games this season for Frölunda and was also on loan to HockeyAllsvenskan club Karlskoga for 7 games. Bohm also brings plenty of experience to his new club and will look to fill a big whole it was is an injury depleted blue line in Malmö.

The Ugly

A total of 12 game suspensions, to four different players, were handed out by the disciplinary committee in what was another reckless week in the SHL. Malmö’s Kim Rosdahl received the harshest decision of the four players, receiving a 5 game ban after being found guilty of knee-check to Brynäs’s Lukas Carlsson, on Saturday. Djurgården’s Daniel Brodin will miss 2 matches for a cross-check to the head of Örebro’s Peter Andersson. And, after dropping their gloves and engaging in a fight, both Örebro’s Alexander Hellström and Djurgården’s Mikael Ahlén received a two match suspension, although Ahlén received one extra game ban for being the fight’s instigator.

 
 

2016-01-05 11:20:00 | Weekly reviews

Weekly wrap from SHL

Frölunda ensured that they finished the calendar year on top of the SHL standings in 2015, with an almost flawless holiday season of hockey. After taking care of cellar dwellers Karlskrona on Boxing Day, the Gothenburg club stamped their authority on 2015 by taking down their nearest rivals Skellefteå AIK in a tight and fiery affair 3-2. Their latest win against the Northerners clinched the season series between the two clubs with 3 wins from 3 meetings with only one more match left to play in Skellefteå in February.

It seems fitting that Frölunda HC finish the year on top of the standings after dominating the first half of the season. They have been the club that has shown the most consistency after the first 30 rounds of games, getting their wins on the back of a deep four line roster and superb goaltending. 33-year-old, Joel Lundqvist has led his team from the front, while having the best season that he has ever had in the SHL. Lundqvist is just 7 points away from having his most productive season in Sweden’s top league, posting 15 goals and 15 assists, and is sure to go beyond his personal record of 37 points with 22 games left to play.

It also appears that Frölunda goaltender Lars Johansson is coming of age in net and has been key to the Indian’s success this season. Johansson is the league’s most successful goaltender, taking a loss in only 1 of his games-played-in and winning 15 from 19. He also leads the league with a 92.65 save percentage and 1.64 goals against average. It seems as though Frölunda have found a missing piece to their SM Gold puzzle with Johansson between the pipes.

- I think he was magic in goal, said Frölunda coach Roger Rönnberg after their 3-2PS win against Malmö last Wednseday. It takes something really special to score a goal on him.

The Good

Since his move from reigning champions Växjö, forward Rhett Rakhshani has been riddled with injuries, playing only 11 games this season due to problems with his knee and then his hand. Since his return to the roster the American has been scoring at a point-per-game pace with 5 goals in 5 games. Coach Dan Tangnes has been experimenting with Rakhshani, combining him with a variety of players since his return, although, it certainly hasn’t unsettled the speedy winger.

North American team mate Andrew Gordon has also hit some striking form over the holiday season, netting 3 goals himself and playing as the provider for another 3. Gordon leads the North American strong-arm of point scorers in Linköping with a tally of 27 points, 5 more than last season’s SHL point scoring leader Broc Little, who is 1 point richer than new recruit Garrett Roe.

The Bad

Since their promotion to the SHL, 2015 has not been a good year for Karlskrona HK, who have found themselves occupying the bottom of the standings for what they would think is far too long. With only one regulation win all season long, it is hard to fantasize that 2016 will be any better. With the relegation line almost realistically out of reach, the new focus for 2016 will have to be building a team that is going to survive the qualifying series against some tough and very motivated HockeyAllsvenskan teams.

The Ugly

Rögle’s Kevin Marshall has been sent to the disciplinary tribunal for an incident that took place in the match against HV71 on Wednesday last week. Marshall has been accused of lifting his stick between the legs of HV’s Erik Christensen, causing him to fall to the ice. Marshall has been reported to the Disciplinary Committee for slashing, and a decision on his case will be released over the coming days.

 
 

2015-12-18 09:45:00 | Weekly reviews

Weekly wrap from SHL

The SHL season has come to its half-way point and the league has certainly lived up to the expectations of all of its followers around the world. The first half of the hockey year has produced some surprises with some teams going far and beyond or unfortunately performing far below what was anticipated of them from the start of the season. For others, things have gone exactly as planned, or close enough to it, so they can be sitting comfortably as the league comes to its international break for the Channel One Cup.

A total of 11 players were selected from the SHL to participate in the Channel One Cup, which will be held between the 02 Arena in Prague and the VTB Ice Palace Arena in Moscow, during the 17-20 December. The Cup will involve rivals Finland, Russia, Czech Republic and Sweden, who will all play one match against each other with the winner decided on wins then goals for and against.

The SHL also has 19 representatives in Sweden’s World Junior Championship squad which will be held in Helsinki, Finland, from the 26 December- 5 January. Sweden’s hopes at the World Juniors is as high as it always is with only gold on the minds of the Junior Kronor and coach Rikard Grönborg. The Swedes have been drawn a tough group, being pinned up against both Canada and the USA and also Switzerland and Denmark.

The Good

With 11 goals in their last 2 games, HV71 certainly put on a show for their fans the past week. The Jönköping club wiped out Örebro HK 7-2 at home last Thursday and backed it up with a solid 4-1 victory away to Färjestad BK. Simon Önerud, who only had 3 goals prior to last week, scored a double in both of his team’s games to bring his goal scoring tally to 7 for the season. Defenceman Chris Campoli showed his offensive worth from the blue-line, notching a goal himself and played the deliverer on four other occasions, while averaging 25:02 minutes of ice-time.

 

During November there were plenty of interesting faces skating around the ice with facial hair that had not doubt many mothers shaking their heads with mix emotions. Movember was the biggest success in cooperation with the SHL that it has ever been, raising 1 363 144 Swedish Crowns between the fourteen clubs and the league’s referees.

- I am very happy and proud of the combined commitment of SHL and that we managed to collect this much. At the same time, we have helped to raise awareness of men's health, says Jörgen Lindgren, CEO of SHL.

The Bad

After signs of progress since Andreas Johansson took over the reins behind the bench, MODO Hockey still find themselves dwelling in the cellar at the half-way point of the year. The Örnsköldsvik club had the perfect opportunity heading into the break to leap-frog out of the relegation zone with a back-to-back matchup against Malmö last week. Two wins would have seen them go past the Skåne club in the standings, but it was the Redhawks that took advantage of the situation and walked away with all six points on offer which saw them move up to eleventh, just 5 points from a play-in spot. Understandably coach Johansson was not satisfied with his team’s performance heading into the break.

- There is no excuse. It is going to be the worst Christmas ever, said Johansson after MODO’s second loss.

The Ugly

Last Thursday, Almen Bibic was given a match penalty for his blind, check to the head of Luleå’s Viktor Ekarv, in the second period of their match. The disciplinary committee deemed that Ekarv had no possibility to protect himself and that Bibic’s check was careless and disrespectful, resulting in a seven game suspension. Bibic will miss 5 games and pay two by a 12 000kr fine.

 
 

2015-12-10 14:37:00 | Okategoriserat

Weekly wrap from SHL - week 49

The News

Djurgården IF have assured their fans that they will be in the hunt come playoff time after taking two of the league’s biggest skulls this week. The Stockholm club impressed big with their 4-1 victory against Brynäs IF on Thursday, and to keep the jaws dropping, they followed it up with a surprise 2-1 win over Skellefteå AIK on Saturday. Djurgården’s climb to sixth in the standings is a result of three straight wins on the back of some world-class goaltending. Veteran Mikael Tellqvist and Mantas Armalis have been superb form during DIF’s rise up the table, with both playing an equally outstanding role. Both goalies have had a combined save percentage of 96.8 over the last three games, with Armalis standing in net against Malmö and Skellefteå and Tellqvist against Brynäs. Coach Hans Särkijärvi has been pleased with his goaltenders contribution and expressed that in the press conference after the win against SAIK.

– We have two really good goalkeepers who work every match and that is important to win hockey games, said Hans Särkijärvi.

Skellefteå’s loss to Djurgården was their second in a row after coming off 12 consecutive wins in the SHL. SAIK first gave up their series lead when they went down to Frölunda 6-3 last Thursday, by the hand of an Andreas Johnson hat-trick. SAIK finally succumb to what has been a tough patch in their schedule where they have played six of their last eight games on the road, with all of the travel catching up on them resulting in a tough week for the Västerbotteners.

The Good

16-year-old Timothy Liljegren made his SHL debut for Rögle BK on Thursday against HV71, recording an assist in his first match in Sweden’s top division. The 2017 NHL Entry Draft prospect played a solid 6:45mins at the right defence position against HV and followed it up with an impressive 10:59min against Färjestad on Saturday. Liljegren in one of Sweden’s top young prospects, performing at a phenomenal level in the country’s SuperElit league where he has 15 points and a plus/minus of 18, which leads the south division.

The Bad

The Champions Hockey League played the second leg of its quarter-finals on Tuesday where three SHL teams were represented. Skellefteå succumb to a fiery and up-tempo HC Davos, who beat them 4-1 at home. It was an impressive performance by the Swiss club who put Skellefteå on the back foot with two first period goals, a lead that in turn was unassailable.

The other match featuring SHL clubs was last year’s CHL champions Lulea versus last year’s runners-up Frölunda. The match was a typical tight affair ending in a one goal win to Frölunda, which sent the game into extra time and a shootout with a two-game aggregate of 7-7. Andreas Johnson continued his return to form slotting his opportunity to get the game winner and send Frölunda to the semi-finals.

With two SHL teams eliminated, only one remains in the final four of the CHL, which is a poor result for the league in comparison to last season where the SHL represented 3 of the final four clubs.

The Ugly

Brynäs IF became victim to the injury curse, losing two key players last week, one of them being the league’s point king. Defenceman Mattias Nörstebö will be out for up to 8 weeks with a broken collarbone after taking a hit into the boards during Brynäs’s game against Djurgården last Thursday. Captain, Anton Rödin is day-to-day recovering from and injury that he also suffered in the match against Djurgården, although, things do look brighter for the league’s best goal scorer, who is expected to make a return by Thursday.

 
 

2015-12-02 15:40:00 | Weekly reviews

Weekly wrap from SHL

The News

As predicted, Skellefteå AIK have taken over the lead at the top of the series table, like a bull charging a matador, after another flawless week, including a win over a rejuvenated HV71 and back-to-back wins over Brynäs on Friday and Saturday night. As mentioned last week, it felt like it was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened considering the scintillating and almost, well, perfect, form that they have been in.

It is just a matter of sifting through the numbers for a short time to realize why Skellefteå have found their way back to the familiar spot at the top, during November. Firstly, they haven’t had a loss since the 20th of October, and there are many reasons why they have made that almost unbelievable statistic viable.

Canadian, Andrew Calof, has awakened from his slow start to the 2015-16 season by scoring 10 points (6G+4A) in his last 7 games, in comparison to his 8 points in the first 18 games of the year. Defenseman, Niclas Burström, didn’t just lead the league with a plus/minus of +10 during November, he also showed that he needs to be contained offensively as well. The 24-year-old climbed his way up to fourth in offensive stats for defenseman, producing 4 goals and 5 assists in his last 7 games. The efficiency of the SAIK’s powerplay has also been impressive, making their opposition pay for their ill-discipline 6 times of 18 opportunities, which tops the league at 33.33 percent.

The Good

Luleå HF have had a well-publicised tough start to their season, after coming out at the beginning of the year screaming that the gold will be raining from the heavens. It does appear now that things are starting to fall in to place for the Norrbotteners with 4-out-of-5 wins over the last couple of weeks. Cohesion within the playing group, due to the many new recruits in 2015, took time for coach Joakim Fagervall to form, but he believes now that he has developed the conviction and confidence within his men to begin to move forward.

 - We have more solid defence right now and we play as a team more right at the moment than we did before, explains coach Fagervall to SHL.se’s English blog. We had a lot of new guys to begin the season and I think we are more convicted to each other. We have confidence right now. It is easier to play.

 This season of the SHL has been filled with amazing plays and some outrageous goals, but, over the past week both Toni Rajala and Oskar Lindblom put on an individual show that will have them on the end of season highlight reel. Luleå’s Rajala turned Växjö’s Ville Varakas inside out when he drew the puck between his own legs and burnt him around the outside, he then lifted the puck in over the glove of goaltender Nihlstorp from a tough angle. Brynäs’s Lindblom, on the other hand, used a spin-o-rama to beat Färjestad’s Johan Ryno, before driving the net and jamming the puck in for his fifth goal of the season.

The Bad

Traditionally Färjestad BK are known to be slow starters to the season, but in 2015 that was certainly not the case, taking points in their first 9 games of the year. Since then, things have not gone so smoothly, especially over the last 7 games where they have only taken 1 win, and are currently on a 3 game skid.

To put it plain and simple, if during your drought period your top two scorers are defenceman, then you have got a scoring issue. Magnus Nygren (2G+4A) and Sebastian Erixon (1G+4A) top the Karlstad club’s point scoring list over the last 7 games, which must be ringing the alarm for coach Tommy Samuelsson and his staff. Compiling the issue is their woeful powerplay statistics were they have only scored twice in 20 opportunities, which is just over nine-percent.

If they fail to get the results this week against Malmö and Rögle, who are both well below them in the standings, there may just be a mid-season crisis call in Karlstad.

The Ugly

It was the longest period of this season without action from the Disciplinary Committee, between rounds 17-22, but Ole-Kristian Tollefsen has broken the good trend of behaviour and was handed down 6+2 game suspension for checking to the head. Tollefsen was deemed to have made direct contact to the blind-side of the head, of HV71’s Mattias Tedenby, whilst he was out-stretched for the puck during last Friday’s game at Löfberg’s Arena. According to the Disciplinary Committee, the check was careless and disrespectful and should result in a stiff penalty.

 
 

2015-11-25 16:28:00 | Okategoriserat

Weekly Wrap from SHL

The News

It is starting to become a two way race at the top in the standings between the country’s two most consistent regular season teams, Skellefteå AIK and Frölunda. It is no surprise that these two teams are sitting at their familiar spot at the top of the table as we begin to get into the grunt and grind of the season. The past two years have shown us that when all early season issues have done their best to throw a spanner into the works Skellefteå and Frölunda brush aside their issues and get wins, just as they have done again this season. Skellefteå’s start was a little unstable but with 14 consecutive games scoring  points and only one loss in overtime to last year’s champions, Växjö, during that time. It now looks as though it will not be long before they move their way back to the top of the standings and assume the position of series leader, where they have finished the regular series for the past 3 years. 

Frölunda look like the only club that have any chance of standing in the way of SAIK and a fourth consecutive regular season title, and will be doing everything in their power to remain at the top. The Göteborg club have had their best 20-game start to the season since than they became Frölunda HC in 2004-05 and don’t particularly look like slowing down either.  With 17 wins and 3 losses to start the year Frölunda are quietly going about their business in the hunt for not only the regular season title, but for the Le Mat Trophy as well. Something that has slipped out of their grasp the last 3 season in one way or another.

The Good

Noah Welch took his time getting to MODO Hockey this season, but it is definitely proving to be worth the wait. Appointed team captain upon his arrival at his new club in Örnsköldsvik, Welch has taken the role with both hands and has lead by example. The American has averaged more time on the ice in his first 6 games of the year than any other player in the league. Welch’s 25:11 TOI/GP is 49 seconds per match more than Färjestad defenceman Jonas Holös who on second in average ice-time. Welch is not only putting in the long minutes, he is producing points also. The 33-year-old has scored 6 points (2G+4A) in 6 games since he joined the club and is proving why he was named last season’s playoff MVP. 

Djurgården’s Markus Ljungh is the SHL’s hottest point scorer right now with 9 points. The 22-year-old’s productivity of 3 goals and 6 assists is better than any other player in the league over the last 5 games and has helped the Stockholm club take a vital 9 points during that time. The Djurgården assistant captain had a slow start to the year but has certainly come to life over the last couple of weeks. His combination with wingers Robin Alvarez and Lukas Vejdemo has blossomed more and more as the season has progressed, which is something that Ljungh gives credit to when talking about his form to DIFTV.

– I have two good wingers who help a lot, it is happening for them too, says a humble Markus Ljungh. It is fun when we work hard, which we do, and fun when everything works. You get to know each other more and more each day and you know where each other are. We have played with each other every match and of course it is a plus.

The Bad

It is never an easy task to move up from HockeyAllsvenskan and into Sweden’s top league, the SHL, and for this year’s new comers it is continuously proving to be a challenge to hang on. Karlskrona have had trouble since the season began and after 20 games already look as though they will be fighting for their life at season’s end in the qualifying series against HockeyAllsvenskan’s best. For Rögle and Malmö, it is more MODO Hockey’s poor start to the year that is keeping them over the relegation line than their own good form that is keeping them above it. It feels that it is only a matter of time before the three promoted clubs will be tussling between each other to see who will be the two teams up for relegation. 

The Ugly

HV71’s Teemu Laine has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury that he suffered against Karlskrona on the 12th November. The Finn landed awkwardly after a check by Alexander Viklund and looked to twist at the knee when he hit the ice. HV messaged to say that Laine would require an operation at the beginning of December and would need 6-9 months rehabilitation.

Another one of the league’s Finnish stars, Janne Pesonen, will also miss a large chunk of the year with a soft-tissue upper-body injury. Pesonen left the ice in Skellefteå’s match against Örebro two weeks ago and after further observation last week, SAIK have ruled him out until the playoffs. 

Skellefteå have found their replacement for Pesonen in Mattias Ritola, who has slotted in nicely with Patrik Zackrisson and Andrew Calof, and has already scored 2 goals and 3 assists in 3 games.

 
 

2015-11-19 14:23:00 | Okategoriserat

About MODO, Växjö and Luleå

Modo and Växjö heading in right direction

The SHL is back in the swing of things after the Karjala Tournament break which saw Sweden take out the tournament with two wins against the Czech Republic 6-2 and Finland 3-2 and a loss against Russia 3-6, eventually handing them the cup on goal differential over the Finns.

Since the break it has been business as usual for most of the clubs, except for MODO Hockey, who appear to have been taking on a new approach to their season under new head coach Andreas Johansson, winning 2 games out of 3 since the international break. It looked as though Johansson’s appointment was an instant fix to Modo’s problems when they beat Färjestad in overtime 4-3 in Karlstad last Thursday. Reality hit back hard with a 0-5 loss against Örebro HK the following day, but with a dominating 5-2 win against Karlskrona on Wednesday it does give the impression that they are beginning to move in the right direction towards the other half of the standings.

- We need to prove that we belong in the top half of the league and to do that we need to win every game against teams in the bottom half, and we did that tonight. So we have got to keep going, explained Modo’s Kyle Wilson to the MODO Channel after his teams win against Karlskrona.

Although things do seem to be improving in Örnsköldsvik, the team are under no illusion that their season is not miraculously saved and that their first 3 point win since the 10th of October is just a building block in their recovery and something that they can use to give them more confidence.

- (The win) is something to build off, we haven’t got three points in a while so every point counts. It is nice to get that feeling in the dressing room and have guys smiling again. It is a good building block. That little bit of confidence can go a long way. Hopefully getting that feeling of a three point win can give us a little confidence and keep us rolling, said a hopeful Wilson.

Kiiskinen and Nihlstorp lead the way for Växjö

After a shaky start to the year for the reigning champions, the Växjö Lakers have turned things around and are showing that the consistency that won them the title in 2014-15 is back within the group, taking points in their last 11 games. Most recently they have hunted down Linköping, who were six points ahead in their standing before the Karjala Tournament break, beating them twice in 3 days to have them tied on 33 points and share 4th place in the standings. A lot of the chatter when speaking about Växjö has been about Robert Rosén and Richard Gynge, but it was their first line partner that almost single-handedly took down Linköping. Tuomas Kiiskinen was the only man to score in Växjö’s 1-0 win last Thursday, he then followed it up with two goals in their rematch with Linköping on Saturday, ensuring that he did his part in the double victory for his club. The return to top form of Christopher Nihlstorp has also been a large factor in Växjö’s recent hot streak, especially in their two wins against Linköping where he recorded his second shutout for the season, followed by a save percentage of 92 in their return match in Vida Arena.

- We have met Linköping two times in three days and have taken six points but it has been extremely close, explained a somewhat relieved Växjö Coach Sam Hallam after the game on Saturday. Torpet (Christopher Nihlstorp) was incredibly good. If there is someone to point out, he was the factor today who made the difference for us.

Luleå under fire

Highly rated at the beginning of the season, Luleå Hockey, have been the biggest disappointment in the 2015-16 season, winning just 7 games from 18 matches, which is beginning to create some unrest within the club and its fans. On paper the club is star-studded, but on the ice all those stars have simply failed to shine and the time is drawing near for the club to start making some difficult decisions and begin to make changes. With so much talent on the roster the natural place to look first would have to be the coaching staff. Joakim Fagervall is in his second year as Luleå’s head coach and it would be a surprise if his job is not under fire over the next coming weeks, if things don’t miraculously change of course. In Fagervall’s defence, he has been dealing with an unexpected goaltending crisis to begin the season. Joel Lassinantti was one of the league’s top goalies last year and many expected him to continue his good form and have another breakout season in 2015-16. This has most definitely not been the case, the 22-year-old posting some horrible stats in his 10 games played-in, a 3.05 goals-against-average and an 88.77 save percentage. Alternate goalie Daniel Larsson has not been able to do any better either, his 87.98 save percentage and 3.20 goals-against-average has not given Fagervall any other real option to turn to. Due to an injury and sickness Luleå may be forced to head to Örebro with two junior goaltenders in their line-up on Thursday, which, who knows, it may just turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the club.

 

 
 

2015-11-05 00:31:00 | Okategoriserat

Skellefteå climb as MODO begin to right wrongs

The champion of two seasons ago, Skellefteå didn’t have a bad start to the season, but it was under par in comparison to what was expected of them. Since the first month of the season things have begun to return to normal in Västerbotten as the players begin to climb their way back to the top of the standings.

Sometimes good things happen after a bad situation has unfolded and you could say that was the case for Skellefteå AIK. The suspension of Captain Jimmie Ericsson, 3 weeks ago, unveiled a more focused and determined Skellefteå, who came out on a mission each game to play hockey and take all points on offer. In the six games Ericsson missed, Skellefteå took 15 points of a possible 18, which continued to roll on when the veteran returned this week, winning both back-to-back games in regular time against Malmö last weekend. In the absence of Ericsson it has been Skellefteå’s second-line forwards that have taken the initiative on themselves to bring their club back up to where they belong. The combination of Patrik Zackrisson, Janne Pesonen and Andrew Calof, has come to life the past 8 games with the trio accounting for 32 points (11+21) and have become the foundation of Skellefteå’s offence.

Although, the slow start to 2015-16 for Zackrisson, Pesonen and Calof, it was only a matter of time before the trio found the chemistry again that was influential at the end of season and during the playoffs for Skellefteå last year. Since January, 2015, when Pesonen joined Skellefteå from AK Bars Kazan, has the Finn, Swede and Canadian built a combination that has been one of the most dangerous in the league and it is no surprise that when they began to get their mojo back so did the rest of the Skellefteå AIK line-up.

MODO Hockey begin to make changes

If you take a look at the roster that General Manager, Per Svartvadet, has put together for MODO Hockey it is hard to believe that they are placed second last after 15 games into the season. You could say that MODO haven’t had lady luck on their side after losing their first center and captain Byron Ritchie for an extended period and also star signing Ryan Whitney after just two games, but in such a tough and tight league like the SHL you must be able to stay afloat even if a few curve balls are thrown your way. Unfortunately, the boat in Örnsköldsvik has been sinking, and sinking quickly, and the first to walk the blank is Coach Larry Huras. Canadian, Huras, was brought in to MODO to mentor a more North American roster than what has been seen at the club ever before, but to the dismay of the team, it has proven to be a failure with Huras left eating his words more often and not, being unable to deliver the results on the ice that he has talked about off it. GM, Svartvadet, assessed his club’s poor start and came to the conclusion that the problem did not lie within the playing roster but within the systems in which they play.

– This is not a situation you want to be in, but now we are there. We have started the season disastrously bad and when we analyze the problems we see major flaws in our entire playing system, says MODO Hockey GM Per Svartvadet to the club's website.

Huras’s departure has now given a final chance in the SHL for new MODO Hockey Head Coach Andreas Johansson, who was ‘pushed-out’ of HV71 just a few weeks before the season began. If things continue to go disastrously for MODO Hockey under the guard of Johansson, it will most likely be the last time he is seen as a coach in the SHL. Some may see this as a risky choice from Svartvadet, but it may just be the perfect fit. A desperate team with everything to lose, needs a coach that has a fire within to make sure that the club wins, and they will certainly get that from Johansson, because he is out to take revenge and prove his critics wrong. Johansson is joined in MODO by long-time colleague Fredrik Olausson, who specialises in working with defenders, and the pair have taken no time in in letting the league know that they take over a team that they believe has the potential to achieve a lot more than anyone can imagine.

– I believe in this team. It is an incredibly interesting squad and it is also a reason why we took this job. Now we are going to put in a good foundation and bring order to this team. Then we will start to climb, says a determined Andreas Johansson

– The goal we will take together with the players. We want them involved. But my personal goal may well be higher than many others, explains Fredrik Olausson. Yes, so high that many people would think I was crazy if I said it. But there are qualities in this team that have not been seen yet. There is much more to take out of this squad.

Things are already beginning to look up for Johansson and MODO Hockey with Noah Welch finally arriving in the club after being stalled with tax issues. Last year’s playoff MVP is already being labelled as a possible ‘saviour’ for his new club, a title that the American is doing his best to brush off.

– I do not come here as a saviour, I'm alone no solution to the problem. This is a team sport and we have to fix this together, says a sincere Noah Welch.

 

 
 

2015-10-27 13:20:00 | Okategoriserat

Lundqvist leads devastating Frölunda offence

Leading the league by an astonishing 8 points after 13 rounds makes it is the simple truth that there is one team that all the rest are beginning to fear after the first quarter of the season is behind them. The Frölunda Indians have been dominating since the beginning of the season and are going from strength to strength, taking complete control of the league last week with a clinical and devastating display in their three matches. A win against Linköping, who were second in the league at the time, was the first of two 7-1 victories, the other coming against Karlskrona on the second leg of their back-to-back, after a tougher 3-1 victory on the Friday in Blekinge. The Gothenburg club’s 34 points in the standings is the fastest start in Sweden’s top league for 10 years, when Timrå IK also jumped out of the blocks with 12 wins (2 in extra time) and only 1 loss after 13 games played.

The mortifying thought for all of Frölunda’s opponents is the fact they not only sit well clear at the top of the standings but they sit there with an incredible plus -34 goal differential which is astonishingly plus -25 GD higher than any other club in the league, which clearly indicates that they have the best offence and defence in the SHL. Captain Joel Lundqvist is usually known for his leadership prowess and his strength in front of goal, but this season he finds himself becoming a scorer as well. At age 33, it wouldn’t be wrong to think that Lundqvist best scoring years were behind him, but ironically enough they look to be in the not so distant future. Lundqvist has started the year with 9G+7A which points him just 6 points behind his entire 2014-15 tally. His 16 point start also points him well on his way to beating his own SHL point scoring record of 37 points in one season, which was back in the days of West Frölunda HC in 2002-03.

HV71 back on track

It was a treacherous start to the season for Jönköping’s HV71, winning the first game of the year to then go on and lose the following 6 games in-a-row. Now, things appear to be on the way back up, after the return of some injured players, none of which are more important than Captain Ted Brithén. Since Brithén’s return HV71 have taken all 9 points on offer to them in the past 3 games and have looked to have found their offensive mojo, especially on the powerplay. Although Brithén hasn’t been in the points so much himself, it is clear that his composure and leadership means a lot to a HV team that lacked confidence during the first 10 games of the season. Now, though, it shows that confidence is coming back into their two-way game with a 14-5 goal differential the past week, making what, forward, Erik Christensen says is much more fun hockey.

- It is much more fun to play hockey now than it was a couple of weeks ago. We have got our self-confidence back with the players that have returned from injury, explains Canadian Erik Christensen to HV’s webpage. We are doing a much better job on the forecheck, which puts more pressure on our opponents and makes it harder for them to come up the ice.

KHK’s Wiklund writes history

Things haven’t gone so well for Karlskrona this season with just 4 points after 13 rounds. But if we are scraping the barrel for some positives to the start off the year at least they have now written themselves into SHL history with the fastest goal ever. It took Alexander Wiklund just 5.5 seconds to score against Frölunda on Friday, after Lukas Bengtsson fell over his own laces on the blue-line after the opening faceoff, allowing Wiklund to skate in all alone on goalie Johan Gustafsson where he made no mistaking ripping him high over his left shoulder. The official goal time of 5 seconds was one second faster than any previous goal in the SHL.

 
 

2015-10-21 12:51:00 | Okategoriserat

Time to react before it's too late

It is only early in the season. There are 42 rounds left to play. But it is time to start getting worried before some teams get left behind and others streak out of reach.

Leading up to the season there were big concerns for how Karlskrona were going to compete in the SHL. Now, after 10 rounds have been played, and just 1 win and an OT loss registering the newcomers points, there are some even deeper concerns about where they are going to find any more points during the rest of the year. To be fair, they haven’t been an easy beat, if you take a look at the results. They have hung on in most games and found a way to keep the score respectable, but that is just it, they are just hanging on and hanging in there. Their survival style of hockey shows that they have the right attitude and are playing the way they need to play, but it may only be a matter of time before they cannot gasp for air any longer, unless some changes happen and happen quickly.

Goaltending has been a problem but that is on the back of some serious poor patches of defence. Head coach Per Hånberg has to be concerned with the amount of shots his two goaltenders are facing and the quality of opportunities his defence are giving up. Neither Linus Fernström nor Patrick Galbraith have performed to the standard that is needed to keep Karlskrona away for the relegation playoff, but when they are facing the most amount of shots in the league and the most amount of shots in the high percentage scoring areas you can give them a little sympathy and understanding. The sit back and counter-attack style of hockey is obviously not working in Blekinge. It may be time to take on a more aggressive approach, because really, what have they got to lose?

Växjö recruit and find success

Things didn’t start out the way reigning champions Växjö would have hoped this season, but they have not mucked around and made some decisive decisions early in the year to make sure that they stay in reach (just), of the action at the top of the standings. The success of Robert Rosén, Richard Gynge and Tuomas Kiiskinen has been phenomenal for Växjö, but Coach Sam Hallam and GM Henrik Evertsson took no time realizing that they were lacking on their other three lines, and straight to the buyer’s market he went. It has only been 2 games, but the purchase of Joey Crabb looks like a winner. It certainly helped that Crabb scored the game-winning-goal in OT in his first appearance with the club, but his presence on the ice and his chemistry with line-mates Josh Hennessey and Joakim Hillding has been instantaneous.

Hallam and Evertsson have not stopped there though, now signing NHL and Stanley Cup merited forward Adam Burish, which they hope will help fix some of the problems that the Lakers are having on the boxplay (63.89%, lowest in SHL), and also believe that his leadership and experience off the ice will also be a plus.

– Adam Burish is an interesting player in many ways. He is physical and reads the play very well. But he is also a nice profile off the ice, said Evertsson to Växjö’s webpage. He is going to be an important part in making our boxplay better. 

Brynäs first 3 lead way

The early season success of Brynäs IF has continued to roll on nicely, all on the back of what has to be said as the SHL’s most dangerous forward line. Captain Anton Rödin (8G+8A) is holding strong at the top of both the point and goal scoring standings in the league and is being accompanied by his line-mate Greg Scott (7G+8A) just one goal and one point behind. The third link in their chain is Oskar Lindbolm (1G+7A) who leads the league’s juniors in scoring with 8 points. The Gävle club’s form has also been carried by a strong penalty kill and powerplay, where both Rödin (2PPG+6PPA) and Scott (2PPG+3PPA) have also found success, something that coach Thomas ‘Bulan’ Berglund says has been a solid aspect of their game all season.

– (Our Powerplay and penalty kill) has been good all season, I think. We know what we are going to do and we feel comfortable with it, explained Bulan to Brynäs’s homepage.

 
 

2015-10-13 12:50:00 | Okategoriserat

Dramatic week as ill-discipline continues

It has been a wild ol’ week in the SHL this week as the season begins to open up and the standings begin to crunch together. After eight rounds played this season it feels that the 2015-16 is shaping up to be one of the most contested seasons in recent times, and that almost any team on any day can beat the other, give or take a few matchups here and there. This feeling doesn’t come just from the fact that all of the clubs this year are so evenly match, as much as I would love to say so, unfortunately, it also has a lot to do with how each club shows up on the day. Frölunda, who even had their first loss of the season this week, are the only two team to have shown consistency to start the season, the rest of the pack have been up and down like a hand full of yo-yos. As much as the start of this season has not doubt given a few coaches minor heart attacks, the unpredictability of each game definitely makes every hockey night an exciting one for all the fans. I don’t think at the start of the year anyone would have predicted that both teams from the north, Skellefteå and Luleå, would be wedged in the middle of the standings, at this time of the year, meanwhile Brynäs and Djurgården sit above the direct playoff qualification line and are showing that their only intention is to stay there.

Djurgården’s four-game winning streak has given the Stockholmers plenty to be happy about, especially after their back-to-back wins against Växjö this past week, without preferred goaltender, Mikael Tellqvist. 23-year-old, Lithuanian born, Mantas Armalis, stepped in this week, after Tellqvist was hurt in Djurgården’s CHL match also against Växjö, and he put in two solid performances to keep his team’s winning stretch alive and to also move him to the top of the goaltender rankings with a 94.02 save percentage after four games played in. Finn Tomi Sallinen has also been a big contributor to Djurgården’s fine form, scoring 1G+3A in his team’s two wins this week and averaged an incredible 23 minutes of ice-time, which is almost unheard of for a centerman.

Discipline the problem in Jönköping

In Jönköping the season has not started off anywhere near as planned, with HV71 sitting 13th in the standings after losing 5 straight games. If there is any excuse, which there always is, HV have had up to 12 of their starting players missing over the last couple of weeks, due to injury or suspension. But that is just it, discipline has been a big problem in Jönköping and you don’t have to look any further than the statistics page to prove it. When you have 168 penalty minutes registered after just 8 games (that’s 21min/game if you do the math), you would want to have the best box-play in the league, the problem is HV71 don’t. After giving their opposition 35 opportunities with the extra man they have let through 10 goals, which gives them a short-handed percentage of 71.43, the second worst in the league.

The stats are also against them when it comes to their offence, scoring just 18 goals this season (the least in the SHL) and have only managed to score the first goal in a game just once. As their players begin to return things may get better for HV, but they will only continue down the spiral of extinction if they don’t stay out of the penalty box and away from disciplinary hearings.

Checking to the head becoming an issue

It isn’t just HV71 who have been finding themselves in disciplinary trouble though, the Swedish Ice-Hockey Association has played a big part in the beginning of the season by handing out heavy punishments for unsportsmanlike like conduct, setting the standard for the rest of the year. A total of 14 players have been sent to the disciplinary committee so far this season where they have handed out 57 games worth of penalties, some of which have been taken as fines instead, plus 20 000kr in penalties for 3 diving incidents. Checking to the head has been the issue that has surfaced the most with 7 players being suspended for careless high hits to their opponents. This week was no different with Skellefteå captain Jimmie Ericsson receiving the biggest suspension so far this year after his uncharacteristic, ugly hit to LHC’s Garrett Roe, while his head was down. Ericsson took a hefty 9 match ban, which was reduced to 6 with an 82 500kr fine. It has to be said that Ericsson made no excuses for his ill-discipline and was extremely remorseful, and naturally glad to hear that Roe did not suffer any serious injury.

- I have sent a signal to hockey Sweden that is not good. I have no excuses, absolutely not, said a regretful Jimmie Ericsson after his hit on Garret Roe.

- As I understand, it was Martin Lundberg who was fighting for a bouncing puck with their player who took the hit (Garrett Roe). I went in to check him and it went completely wrong. At the same time I checked the guy I thought ‘oh shit’.

-I’m not worried about what is going to happen to me, my first priority is to see if the guy I hit is okay, finished a concerned Ericsson.

 
 

2015-10-07 21:16:00 | Okategoriserat

Frölunda step into spotlight as others make changes

Unbeaten after six games to start the season it is no surprise that Frölunda take the step into the limelight as the early season favourites to win the Le Mat trophy. It is not just the 6-0 record that is impressive it is the quality of competition that they have already displaced to stamp their intentions on the 2015-16 SHL season. Wins over arguably higher tipped teams, Skellefteå, Luleå, Växjö and Färjestad, have made an early statement for the Gothenburg team, that they are looking to outdo their recent performances from the last couple of years, where they placed second after the regular season and could not progress any further than the quarters or semis respectively.

After their most recent 6-2 victory against Skellefteå AIK, 24-year-old, Norwegian, Mats Rosseli Olsen, who has started the season in break-out fashion with 3 goals and 3 assists, confirmed that his team had been underestimated at the start of the season and believes that with the group that they have this year, they will be very hard to beat.

– It is not something we think about, but it's a bit like that every year that we are underestimated. But we've been second in the series two years in a row and lost in the semifinals last year. We have shown that we can be pretty good. We hope that we are even better this year, says Rosseli Olsen to Aftonbladet.

– When we play like this (6-2 against Skellefteå) we are very hard to beat. We have great offensive power in the team and it can explode like this, explained Rosseli Olsen.

LHC’s Roe makes flying start

After a shaky start to the season taking just 2 points in 2 games Linköping HC have turned their season around with 4 straight wins of their own, moving up to third in the standings. One man who has contributed considerably to this change in form and settle the ship in Östergötland, is newly signed American, Garrett Roe. Roe missed the first two games of the year due to an injury he picked up in the preseason, but since his returned he has shown why he was one of the most anticipated talents to the join the SHL this season. Roe has used his quick speed and creativity to ‘wow’ the Linköping fans to score 3 goals and 4 assists in his first four games in Sweden, to place him straight up into sixth on the point scoring list. The 27-year-old center has been a point a game player since moving to Europe, where he played for EC Salzburg and EHC Munchen the past two seasons and looks to continue that form now he has made the move to the SHL.

Teams begin to make hopeful improvements

MODO Hockey messaged on Friday that inspirational captain Byron Ritchie will be away from play for up to 12 weeks, due to a raptured Achilles tendon. Ritchie was taken from the ice and straight to the hospital after an incident, in the third period of MODO’s match against HV71, where he was cut by a skate.

Although the club are yet to show any signs of picking up a replacement for Ritchie, they finalized the details to bring in Canadian defender Joel Kwiatkowski, who will fill the skates of the recently retired Ryan Whitney. Kwiatkowski, 38-years-old, brings loads of experienced to his new club, boasting 282 NHL matches, plus 7 seasons in Europe, 2 in the KHL and the last 5 in the Swiss NLA.

Also to make new signings this week are Karlskrona and the Växjö, who have brought in Robin Persson and Joey Crabb, respectively, to help bring their seasons back on track. Karlskrona have not had the easiest of transitions up from HockeyAllsvenskan to the SHL, sitting all the way down the bottom of the standings, due to a defence that has let through 21 goals in six games. In an attempt to fix the issue, the club has brought in experienced defenceman Robin Persson, who is a solid stay-at-home defender, to help stabilise them on the blue-line. The Växjö Lakers haven’t had a dream start to the season either and have utilized the misfortune of American Joey Crabb missing out on a place in the Arizona Coyotes, to sign the 32-year-old on a one-year deal. Beside the production of their first-line, Växjö’s offence has been lacklustre and has been easy to control by their opposition. With the inclusion of Crabb to their line-up, General Manager Henrik Evertsson, hopes the problem will be on its way to being solved and give his team broader production.

Joey Crabb is very motivated to come over to Europe and we see him as a player that will broaden the team and spread out production, says Evertsson the club’s homepage.