2013-05-01 17:00:00 | Okategoriserat
The Elitserien season has come to an end on the ice, although the action certainly has not stopped off it, with teams looking for ways to strengthen their line-ups and fill the holes left by vacating players ahead to the 2013/2014 season.
Chris Lee. Photo: Simone Syversson, Pic Agency
The biggest news from international player movement in April has to be the departure of Defensive Point King Chris Lee from Färjestad BK. Lee departs Karlstad to seek opportunities in the Russian KHL with Metallurg Magnitogorsk. A deal that was said to benefited all three parties, yet leaving a giant hole that will need to be filled in the Färjestad defence.
HV71’s Rhett Rakhshani is also another big name move, with the American moving down to club rival Växjö Lakers. Rakhshani played an important role for HV71 this season with a 39 point year, scoring 14 goals and 25 assists. The possible combination with 2011/2012 Point King Robert Rosén can only bring good things to the Växjö club.
Rhett Rakhshani. Photo: Per Friske, Pic-Agency
Although Frölunda lost star goaltender Julius Hudacek to KHL, they have strengthened their goal scoring abilities significantly by picking up HockeyAllsvenkan’s Point Scoring Leader Evan McGrath. The dual Canadian/Polish national scored 50 points for Oskarshamn last season. His offensive prowess is not all he brings to the Göteborg team but also great defensive skills and a world of experience which will benefit the mass youth in the club.
After moving up from HockeyAllsvenskan for the 2013/2014 season, Leksand have lost key Canadian forward Mark Hurtubise to AIK. The Stockholm club have taken on board and experienced forward who can create scoring opportunities for himself and others, as he showed in his previous season in Leksand, being their second highest point scorer and HockeyAllsvenskan’s seventh best with 45 points.
Kalle Kaijomaa (FIN) from Växjö Lakers to Espoo Blues (Finland)
Mikko Kousa (FIN) from MODO Hockey to Jokerit (Finland)
Ari Vallin (FIN) from Färjestad to Kärpät (Finland)
Mark Hurtubise (CAN) from Leksand to AIK
Chris Lee (CAN) from Färjestad to Metallurg Magnitogorsk (Russia)
Vyacheslav Truhno (RUS) from Asplöven to Luleå
Mika Pyörälä (FIN) from Luleå to Kärpät (Finland)
Daniel Bellisimo (ITA) from Timrå to Luleå
Mats Trygg (NOR) from HV71 to Lorenskog (Norway)
Evan McGrath (CAN) from Oskarshamn to Frölunda
Mikko Luoma (FIN) from HV71 to JYP Jyväskylä (Finland)
Julius Hudacek (SVK) from Frölunda to Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia)
Ville Varakas (FIN) from HIFK Helsinki to Växjö Lakers
Fredrik Norrena (FIN) from Växjö Lakers to TPS Turku (Finland)
Robin Dahlstrom (NOR) from IF Troja-Ljunby Örebro HK
Morten Madsen (DEN) from MODO Hockey to Hamburg Freezers (Germany)
Nick Plastino (ITA) from BIK Karlskoga to Örebro HK
Rhett Rakhshani (USA) from HV71 to Växjö Lakers
2013-04-19 18:15:00 | Okategoriserat
Oscar Lindberg. Photo: Fredrik Sundvall, Pic-Agency
Skellefteå AIK´s Oscar Lindberg has been awarded the Stefan Liv Memorial Trophy, as this year's SM-Slutspel's most valuable player.
Lindberg recorded an impressive 4 goals and 8 assists to share the top rung of this year's points leader table in the playoffs with 12 points. It was not only his point scoring efficiency that lead to him achieving this great honor, but his courageous and hard working ethic all over the ice.
Lindberg was able to produce something out of nothing throughout this whole Slutspel series, creating scoring opportunities when his team needed them the most. A well-deserving winner of the Stefan Liv Memorial Trophy.
Lindberg shared his thoughts on his and his teams achievements to Kanal 5 after the match:
- Relief, happiness and a little emptiness. I feel proud that I can do this with the players that I have played with all season. I grow as a player all the time and now in the playoffs. I am not surprised that we have done so well. I don't think that I have taken it in one hundred percent yet.
2013-04-19 18:00:00 | Okategoriserat
Skellefteå AIK. Photo: Fredrik Sundvall, Pic-Agency
Skellefteå vs. Luleå
Series: Skellefteå win 4-0
Skellefteå AIK stamp their ownership on this year's Elitserien with a 4-0 series victory in the SM-Final to become Sweden's 2012/2013 ice-hockey Masters.
- It's absolutely fantastic, I don't know when you will stop being happy, said a gold helmet wearing Joacim Eriksson.
It is a dream come true for Skellefteå, after going down in the final the previous two years to Brynäs and Färjestad, they now end their season as deserving champions, a point Skellefteå defenceman Fredrik Lindgren expressed:
- I'm so proud of the team and all the staff. We have been in the final twice before and now we are there as the winners. I think we really deserve this Gold as we have huge character and everyone has worked really hard.
Luleå forced the Norrbotten club to come from behind in game three of the series taking a 0-1 lead into the first intermission. It was only thirty-two seconds into the second period before Skellefteå defenceman, Martin Sevc found himself open in the slot to fire home the equalizer.
Viktor Arvidsson once again stepped up to be the hero for SAIK, burying a loose rebound, after some give and go passing with Melker Karlsson and Oscar Lindberg, to score the game winner with the match ending 2-1.
Game four was more of a one sided affair, the Luleå home fans watched their hopes of a miracle series fight back disappear by the minute. Skellefteå came out of their change room with gold on their minds, out skating their opponents and creating all the offensive pressure, resulting in an early goal for Oscar Möller 3:33 minutes into the match.
Erik Forssell then put the guests 2-0 up before the end of the period to take complete control of game four. Skellefteå then put both hands on the Le Mat Trophy when Johan Forsberg found himself with an open net after a fine pass from Oscar Lindberg, putting the game out of reach for Luleå at 3-0. Forssell scored his second for the match, sealing the victory with an empty net goal, winning the match and the series by a comfortable 4-0.
Skellefteå AIK. Photo: Fredrik Sundvall, Pic-Agency
Luleå simply did not have have the answers to stop a Skellefteå team that were on a mission for gold from the beginning of the season. Topping the Elitserien table with 114 points and losing only one match in the entire SM-Slutspel. Luleå's sporting director Lars Bergström explains to Hockeyligan.se:
- Obviously we are disappointed. We worked hard the whole season for this gold, only to realize that it wasn't enough when we met a better opponent, Bergström continues:
- They were much better in every moment. We may have been able to win a match, but over the whole series their is no question. They have been better than us and are deserving winners.
A large key to the success of Skellefteå in this year's SM-Slutspel and final was the outstanding performance of goaltender Joacim Eriksson. The 23 year old, Gävle born goaltender, has posted incredible statistics throughout this playoff series, recording a save percentage of 95.22 and a goals against average of a mere 1.06, while standing between the pipes for 10 matches.
In the final against Luleå, Eriksson only allowed three goals in four matches and also recorded two of his three Slutspel shutouts against his northern rivals. It was not only the statistics that impressed, but also the clutch saves of Eriksson when his team needed them the most. The Skellefteå goaltender shared the secret of his success after his teams series victory;
- I got more confident this season and felt more stable in every way. I got better at reading the game and a little bit faster. The star goalkeeper continued on about his emotions of the win and returning home to Skellefteå:
- It feels great to win here in Luleå, it could not be better. It is going to be magic in Skellefteå in every way.
2013-04-15 10:00:00 | Okategoriserat
Luleå vs Skellefteå. Photo: Fredrik Sundvall, Pic-Agency
Skellefteå vs. Luleå
Series: Skellefteå lead 2-0
Skellefteå have a strangle hold on the Le Mat Trophy, going out to an ascending 2-0 series lead in the SM-Final against Northern rival Luleå, taking their home win in overtime and an all important away win in game two of the series.
It was a 0-0 tie after regular time in game one, which saw the first meeting in the series go into extra time, where Elitserien Point King Bud Holloway reignited his playoff form scoring the 1-0 game winner, to draw first blood in this year’s final. Viktor Arvidsson was the hero for the Västerbotton club in game two, scoring one goal and providing two for his team mates, to help his team to a 4-2 win and adopt a 2-0 match lead in the best of seven series.
Skellefteå dominated the proceedings in game one with a shot count of 45-18, but were denied repeatedly by the outstanding goaltending abilities of Luleå’s Johan Gustafsson. After a tight first period between the two Northern clubs, Skellefteå began to over-power their rivals, always looking the most likely to break the 0-0 score line, although they were continually stoned by big saves from a determined and focused Gustafsson.
It was 8:30 into overtime before Skellefteå took the game winner when Elitserien’s Highest Point Scorer Holloway netted his first goal since game two of the quarter-finals, handing his team a 1-0 victory and a 1-0 series lead.
- It is a stepping stone, getting game one out of the way. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we have one in place, said match hero Bud Holloway on the importance of the win to Kanal 5.
Arvidsson and company after a goal. Photo: Fredrik Sundvall, Pic-Agency
Luleå came out a different team in game 2 taking the lead early, although a five minute lapse mid-way through the first period allowed Skellefteå to control the match, scoring three quick goals and go on and win 4-2. Linus Persson delighted the sold out home crowd in Coop Norrbotten Arena giving his team a 1-0 lead after only 2:35 in the match. It then became the Viktor Arvidsson show, first delivering a pin point pass to Petter Emanualsson, after winning the puck behind the net, who fired the puck past the goaltender to tie the match 1-1.
Arvidsson then gave his team a 2-1 lead, scoring a beautiful breakaway goal, beating Gustafsson with a nice move on the backhand. Skellefteå’s third goal in five and a half minutes came from Captain Jimmie Ericsson, as he found himself free in front of the net, scoring the eventual match winner. Arvidsson then became the supplier again, turning goaltender Gustafsson inside out then served team mate Melker Karlsson a goal on a silver platter, giving their team an unassailable 4-1 lead.
Linus Persson scored his Slutspel toping eighth goal soon after, to give his team a glimmer of hope at 4-2 in the second period, but Skellefteå defended their lead well during the final half of the match, going on to win and attain an ascending 2-0 lead in the series.
Viktor Arvidsson, 20 years old, has become an important and key player for Skellefteå throughout this playoff period, maturing into a creative and speedy forward, something that Skellefteå’s Assistant Coach, Bert Robertsson is fully aware of.
- Viktor is a guy with fresh legs and it shows when he is on the ice, says Robertsson to Kanal 5, when he is on the ice he makes a difference, then it is irrelevant how much ice time you give him.
Linus Persson. Photo: Fredrik Sundvall, Pic-Agency
Luleå must now take full advantage of the one day rest and recover from their poor start. They must take the positives out of their two losses and start afresh in game three at Skellefteå’s Kraft Arena, if they are any hope of getting back into this SM-Final, something that Slutspel Point Leader Linus Persson explained after the game two loss:
- We just need to reload, we are taking steps in the right direction, I think we are better than Skellefteå and if we continue like this we will take them on Tuesday.
2013-04-11 13:00:00 | Okategoriserat
Skellefteå vs Luleå. Photo Bert Söderström, Pic-Agency
(1) Skellefteå vs (3) Luleå
Skellefteå 3 wins (13GF, 10GA)
Luleå 2 wins (10GF, 13GA)
Slutspel History: Skellefteå 1-0 (2010/2011: 4-2)
It is no surprise that it has ended up as a Norrland derby for this year’s SM Slutspel Final. Both teams deserve to be there, as they have been arguably the most consistent clubs through the entire season and have certainly been the most clinical in this year’s playoffs.
Skellefteå vs Linköping. Photo: Bert Söderström, Pic-Agency
QF Brynäs 4-0, SF Linköping 4-1
Scoring Efficiency: 10.24%
Goals Against Average: 1.47%
You can put down consistency as the number one reason why Skellefteå have made it to this year’s final. They play each game with a calmness and composure that you do not get from any other team in the Elitserien. They are comfortable with the lead and keep to their game plan and be patient when they fall behind until the goals begin to flow. This is aided by the complete depth within their four lines which are filled with match winners and game breakers.
Luleå vs Färjestad. Photo Simone Syversson, Pic Agency
QF Frölunda 4-2, SF Färjestad 4-1
Scoring Efficiency: 9.77%
Goals Against Average: 1.86%
Luleå may not be a team filled with superstars like their rivals Skellefteå but they still have goal scorers all over the ice throughout their four lines. Their ability to play tough and physical and grind out a win is one of their biggest attributes. It gives them the ability to hold onto a small lead or stay in the match until someone can tie up or score a match winner. The stellar performance of goaltender Johan Gustafsson is also key for this team. Johan’s capability to make clutch saves when needed has played a big role in his team’s progression to the final.
SKELLEFTEÅ: 8 for 36 (22.22% 3rd in SM-Slutspel)
LULEÅ: 10 for 42 (23.81 2nd in SM-Slutspel)
Playoff Penalty Killing
SKELLEFTEÅ: 28 of 30 (93.33% 1st in SM-Slutspel)
LULEÅ: 26 of 34 (76.47 5th in SM-Slutspel)
Luleå’s powerplay improved dramatically from the quarter-final to the semi-final and played an important part in their move into the final. It is going to have to step up another level to break the superb box play of their Northern rivals. Skellefteå will be looking to exploit Luleå when they are a man short and take advantage of their average form throughout this Slutspel competition.
Oscar Lindberg and Bud Holloway. Photo: Bert Söderström, Pic-Agency
- Oscar Lindberg: It has not only been Lindberg’s team topping point scoring throughout this year’s post-season that has impressed but also his ability to help out his defenders with strong back-checking and two-way hockey. He is constantly getting behind the opposition and creating space and scoring chances for himself and his team mates.
- Linus Persson: During Luleå’s semi-final against Färjestad, Persson emerged as his team’s most in-form player, scoring goals in his last three matches and posting points in his last four. Persson has also been his team’s clutch performer, scoring the game tying goal in game 4 of the series in which Luleå moved on to win in over-time and also buried the OT winner in game 5 to put his team into the SM-Final.
Both of these teams offense have been impressive although for completely different reasons. Skellefteå’s superstar forwards put together magical movements and create plays that are simply beautiful to watch. Where, as Luleå are happy to do the hard work and dig deep in the offensive zone to create goals. Both teams have the men who can deliver a perfect pass under pressure and world class finishes.
Skellefteå’s defensive abilities have been almost unbeatable in this year’s playoffs, amazingly allowing an average of less than 20 shots per match. This has a lot to do with the commitment of their players to deflect shots or put their body on the line and block them. Luleå’s defence has had some cracks this Slutspel although the offensive productivity of their defensemen has made up for the odd lapse of concentration at the back, with the likes of Fransson and Sandström being heavily involved in forward puck movement and goal creation.
Gustafsson against Skellefteå. Photo: Bert Söderström, Pic-Agency
SKELLEFTEÅ: Playoff SVS% 93.61, GAA 1.47
LULEÅ: Playoff SVS% 92.47, GAA 1.88
Goaltending is going to play a big part in the outcome of this final series. Skellefteå began these playoffs alternating between Svensson and Eriksson although it now seems as the latter has taken the number one position playing the final four matches of the semis.
Eriksson has not allowed more than 2 pucks behind him in regular time throughout the entire playoffs. Luleå’s Gustafsson has played all 11 playoff games for his team and has faced an average of 27 shots per match. Although his numbers may not be as impressive as his opponents, his ability to come up with big saves in critical moments has been a highlight of his game in these playoffs.
All attributes taken into account, this SM-Final certainly shapes up to be a tight and physical battle. Skellefteå’s flash and class goes up against the tough workhorse grind of Luleå. Superstar forwards go up against tough defenders and brick wall goaltenders, a series that is too hard to split and should not be missed.
2013-04-08 09:00:00 | Okategoriserat
Luleå Hockey. Photo: Simone Syversson, Pic-Agency
Färjestad vs. Luleå
Series: Luleå win 4-1
Luleå ensure a Norrland derby final, holding off a strong and determined Färjestad team in game five to take the series 4-1. A semi-final win by a more effective and consistent team with great goaltending.
Färjestad were not going out of this series without a fight in game five, being the more aggressive of the two teams throughout the match. It seemed as it was going to be the Karlstad club's night, creating more chances and taking the lead 1-0 mid-way through the second period.
Luleå began to fight back in the third period and tied the match up with eight minutes to play. Färjestad looked as though they were going to please their sell-out home crowd as they put on the pressure and continued to create scoring opportunities deep into the first period of overtime, but it was Luleå’s Linus Klasen who took advantage of his chance, putting the puck behind Salak to send his team into the SM-Slutspel Final.
Luleå wore down their Karlstad opponents in their four match wins. Constant, consistent and effective play from the Norrland club proved too much for Färjestad as they were not able to continually fend off the likes of Linus Persson, Linus Klasen and the always productive Abbott twins. Luleå were able to take their chances and hit the lead, then bog down their opponents and not let them back into the match.
- They were more effective than us and took the lead in more matches, which they are very good at playing with. We were never in the right place and no one put the puck in when we needed it said FBK captain Rickard Walin to Färjestads official website.
Johan Gustafsson. Photo: Simone Syversson, Pic Agency
The difference also in this series was the clutch goaltending of Luleå goaltender Johan Gustafsson. Gustafsson held a save percentage of 93.4 in his teams four wins but it was more the timing of his big saves that made a difference for his team. Besides his slight lapse in game three of the series, Gustafsson was there for his team when they needed him the most, coming up with big saves that shifted momentum and gave his team the opportunity to take the lead or maintain it, something that opposing goaltender Salak was unable to do.
- I am disappointed in myself, I played okay but not my best, I didn’t make the big saves which become the difference to win matches. (Johan) Gustafsson played fantastic in their goal, expressed a self-critical and disappointed Alexander Salak after the series loss.
Luleå are now set to take on their Northern rivals Skellefteå, in what shapes up to be a tough and competitive battle to become Sweden’s Hockey Masters.
2013-04-06 21:00:00 | Okategoriserat
Skellefteå vs Linköping. Photo: Bert Söderström, Pic-Agency
Skellefteå vs. Linköping
Series: Skellefteå win 4-1
Skellefteå become the first team to advance to the SM-Slutspel final after beating Linköping 3-1 in game five to win the series by a deceiving 4-1 in matches.
The misleading 4-1 series win for Skellefteå, tells a false story, giving the impression that it was a comfortable semi-final victory for the Elitserien's best club, although that was not the case. Each match in this series was a colossus battle with momentum swinging both ways in all five matches. Skellefteå were forced to show during this series that they have not only the skill and quality to win SM Gold but also the will and determination, coming back from 0-1 in the series and also coming from behind in two matches, forcing overtime and allowing one of their many superstars to net the winner.
- Above all we have learnt how to create a real winning feeling in the group and now before the SM-Final we have many winners in our team, stated Skellefteå star Petter Emanuelsson after clinching the series.
Game five was the most comfortable win of the series for Skellefteå, for the first time in this semi, not needing any more than regulation time to finish off a gallant Linköping. Petter Emanuelsson scoring the game wining 2-1 goal with some sweet hockey magic, dragging the puck between the defender's legs and scoring on the backhand. The final score ending 3-1 which saw Linköping take an earlier summer holiday than they would have wished for.
Skellefteå vs Linköping. Photo: Bert Söderström, Pic-Agency
Despite the early exit from the Östergötland men, they can end their season with their heads held high. It was a courageous performance throughout their series loss, taking one win and forcing overtime in four of the five matches this series, a lot more than what most expected. Pär Arlbrandt and Simon Hjalmarsson proved that they are two of Elitserien's most talented players, finishing first and second respectively in Slutspel point scoring to date. Linköping coach Roger Melin expressed his pride for his men to C More after being knocked out of this year's title race;
- I am just so proud to be a part of this group who show immense character. They work and struggle for each other all the time. I think that they have proven that they deserve all the attention that they can get. It is just a shame that we could not turn some of these close matches into our favor.
Skellefteå can now take a well-deserved rest and reload before their third SM Slutspel Final in as many years, being proud of their quarter-final and semi-final wins. They will head into game one of this year's SM-final on Saturday 13th of April full of confidence, knowing that they are the team to beat and for very good reason.
2013-04-05 20:16:00 | Okategoriserat
Luleå vs Färjestad. Photo: Fredrik Sundvall, Pic-Agency
Färjestad vs. Luleå
Series: Luleå lead 3-1
Luleå now look to close out the series as they hold a strong 3-1 lead in the best of seven semi-final. After a little hiccup in game 3 the Norrbotten club came back with a tight yet dominant overtime victory in game four to now be in complete control of the series.
It was the Färjestad of old which arrived back to Löfbergs Lila Arena in Karlstad for game three, displaying a much more organized and tighter game plan, as they have done previously during the year. Goaltender Salak was also back to his old self, coming up with important saves in the first period as Luleå were denied on multiple odd man rushes. This gave the Färjestad men the confidence to attack and bury the puck in the opposing net in key moments throughout the match, scoring two quick goals at the end of the first to make it 2-0 and the first goal of the third to maintain the two goal gap at 3-1, eventually taking the important win 4-1. Färjestad’s Anders Bastiansen analyzed the key moments after the match:
- Salak made some important saves at the beginning of the match which gave us the possibility to win. When we later scored the first goal it gave us a little more self-confidence. The most important today was when Salak saved the two against one in the first period, as Luleå are tough team when they have the lead.
Persson after his sudden death goal. Photo: Fredrik Sundvall, Pic-Agency
It was a physical and tight match as promised in COOP Norrbotten Arena for game four of the series, both teams coming out hard and pressing forward. Momentum swung back and forth throughout the first half of the match but it was Luleå who created the most chances, out shooting their opponents, 39-20 by the end of the game. The match stood at 2-2 half way through the second period when Luleå began to wear down their opponents and look more and more likely to score the go ahead goal. The 3-2 winning goal coming after 12 seconds of overtime, Luleå’s Linus Persson strolled in and beat Salak with a hard shot glove side, giving his team a dominant 3-1 lead in the series.
- I think that we began to take over the match more and more as it went on and then in the end we won. It was good to go into overtime and score directly, said match hero Linus Persson in his post-game interview.
Färjestad must now take three match wins in a row if they are to move on and into the final, an uphill task as coach Leif Carlsson explained to C More after the match.
- Now it is uphill. We do not have the time to dwell on this too much. We will try to go through why it is like this, then we must look forward.
Färjestad’s assistant coach Andreas Johansson also expressed his feelings of the tough task ahead as he gave his thoughts in the post-game press conference;
- We must win on Saturday first, then we can see what we can do. If we win there then we are in the series again. It is always tough to win matches away but first we must win on Saturday. We must play better than we did today.
2013-04-04 11:20:00 | Okategoriserat
Oscar Lindberg, suddenhero for Skellefteå. (Foto Bert Söderström, Pic-Agency)
In an epic battle between Skellefteå and Linköping with all four games in this series ending at 2-2 after regular time, it has been Oscar Lindberg who has become the Norrland club’s sudden death hero, burying the puck in Linköping’s net in both games three and four in overtime to give his team a commanding lead in the series 3-1.
Skellefteå came firing out of the blocks in game three dominating the shots 22-5 in the first period, although Linköping’s goaltender Christian Engstrand was flawless with a shutout after the first 20 minutes. The Östergötland club took the second period 2-1 but Skellefteå continued to be patient, as they have been all series, finding the game tying goal mid-way through the third period off the stick of Petter Emanualsson. Oscar Lindberg then charged in on a loose puck 3min 27 sec into overtime to score his first sudden death goal of the series.
It was a much stronger and aggressive Linköping team who skated out in front of their home crowd inside the Cloetta Center in game number four. The White Lions held Skellefteå deep inside their own zone for longer periods of the match, some strong fore-checking and puck control allowed them to dictate much more of the game than their previous passive play. It was Skellefteå though who took the lead 2-0 after the second period, but Linköping fought back in the third to once again take the match into overtime at 2-2. Linköping’s joy was short lived as Oscar Lindberg accounted for his second straight sudden death goal in two matches to once again be the hero for his team.
-It feels good, I feel strong and quick, it is a good feeling inside the team also. It doesn’t matter who scores the goals as long as we are where we are, explained hero Lindberg after the match.
The game four win now puts Linköping under pressure as they head up to Northern Sweden to once again attempt to beat Skellefteå in Kraft Arena to stay alive.
-We must never give up, just get new courage and move on. We know that we have the capacity, we have shown this in these matches, says Linköping Coach Roger Melin to broadcasting Kanal 5.
The series is now Skellefteå’s for the taking with the opportunity to close out the semi-final on home ice. Linköping showed in game four that they have the ability to take more control of the match and are expected to come out all guns blazing in a do or die match for them on Friday.
2013-04-02 12:00:00 | Okategoriserat
Calle Järnkrok. Photo: Pär Olert, Pic-Agency
The National Hockey League continue to scout Sweden's talent over to North America. Calle Järnkrok, Jesper Fasth, Henrik Tömmernes and Sebastian Collberg have already made the move over the Atlantic to their respected clubs, meanwhile the NHL wait upon the end of Carl Söderberg, Oscar Lindberg and Filip Forsberg's respected playoffs to finish before talks will be finalized and these players go and join their NHL or feeder AHL clubs.
The Detroit Redwings have assigned Calle Järnkrok to their AHL club Grand Rapids Griffins on the 25th of March with all hopes that he will adapt to the American style of hockey throughout the end of the season. Järnkrok was more than impressive in this year's Elitserien being the eighth highest point scorer in the league answering for 13 goals and 29 assists, to lead Brynäs's point sheet with 42 points. Calle will play nine matches with Grand Rapids before returning home to play in the World Championships for Sweden.
Jesper Fasth. Photo: Stefan Persson, Pic-Agency
In the same situation as Järnkrok, Jesper Fasth will make his way over to North America to play with the New York Rangers but must also come back to Sweden and play in the upcoming World Championships in Stockholm. With an impressive 18 goals and 17 assists this season the Rangers hope that Fasth will help them find some of their offensive firepower in which they have lacked so far this season.
Two of Frölunda's young stars are also on their way to North America. Henrik Tömmernes is in discussion with the Vancouver Canucks about moving into their line up although he is waiting on final visa clarification before they can move further. Junior team mate Sebastian Collberg has finalized an agreement with the Montreal Canadiens to play in their AHL feeder club, Hamilton Bulldogs for the rest of the season. The move is more likely to be part of Collberg's development as it is know that they want him in the AHL to see where he can improve his game as no permanent plan to keep the young star in North America is in place as of yet.
Carl Söderberg. Photo: Tobias Josefsson
Once the respective playoff games end, Söderberg, Lindberg and Forsberg are also rumored to finish their seasons in North America. It is no news that Elitserien goal king Carl Söderberg is on his way to the Boston Bruins. The Linköping star has been linked with the club for many years now, but it is believed that the time has come for the Malmö born center to make his debut in the NHL. Anders Hedberg, New York Ranger European scout, was recorded saying that Oscar Lindberg would be playing his final year in Sweden and would be joining fellow Elitserien star Jesper Fasth in New York.
Newly promoted Leksand look like losing their young Junior star Filip Forsberg, who scored 33 points in 38 games in HockeyAllsvenskan, as he looks to make his debut for Washigton Capitals farmer team Hershey Bears. Forsberg will finish the season in the AHL to see where he will best fit in the Capitals line-up and where he can make improvements before taking the step into the NHL.
2013-04-01 16:30:00 | Okategoriserat
Luleå Hockey vs Färjestad. Photo: Fredrik Sundvall, Pic-Agency
Färjestad vs. Luleå
Series: Luleå 2-0
Easter weekend has been a happy time of year for Luleå as they have the series in their grasp after two wins over the weekend to be 2-0 up in their semi-final clash against Färjestad.
It certainly was a Good Friday for the Norrland club when they took the first match of the series 4-1 in Färjestad’s Löfbergs Lila Arena. It was a goalkeeper’s win in game one as Johan Gustafsson was stone hard in goal holding a save percentage of 96.3 while he watched his team frustrate opposing goaltender Alexander Salak, pressuring him into an uncharacteristic performance.
Luleå were patient with their play and took their chances when they came, scoring two goals on the powerplay to grind out a game one victory.
- The result is obviously good, but the performance was really good. He did an awesome match and it was needed, said Luleå’s goaltending coach Daniel Henriksson when ask about the result and Gustafsson’s performance.
It was Linus Klasen and Cam Abbot who stole the show in front of their home fans to lead their team to victory number two in the series with a 5-2 win. Canadian Abbott answered for two goals in the match and led from the front working hard and creating chances throughout the entire sixty minutes. It was once again Luleå’s powerplay that swung the match when Klasen delivered two beautiful passes to Jan Sandström and Joonas Vihko to score two extra man goals in 45 seconds in the beginning of the second period to make it 3-1, a feat Färjestad could never overcome.
- I think we played better today than in the first match. But then they scored two goals on the powerplay in the second period, we must be better at stopping their powerplay, explained Färjestad Captain Rickard Wallin to Kanal 5.
Luleå Hockey vs Färjestad. Photo: Fredrik Sundvall, Pic-Agency
Färjestad have simply been okay in this series so far, they have not been playing to the standard in which they can and the standard in which they need to take a semi-final win, something that coach Leif Carlsson explains to C More:
- We are not up to the standard that we want, we need to get into the shooting zone and be better there. We need to face the fact that we are in a semi-final and it takes more than this.
Luleå has shown a vast improvement on their special teams from their quarter-final against Frölunda, now boasting impressive statistics converting half of their powerplay chances into goals and only allowing one goal out of five when in box formation. They have come out in the semi physical and strong all over the ice and have continued to play for the whole sixty minutes, not giving Färjestad any room to create chances.
- I think we are better over sixty minutes. We are good in all positions at the moment and we have a great goaltender which is everything you need to win matches, continues Linus Klasen after game 2, we can enjoy this now then it is full focus on the next game where it will probably be a similar result as this.
2013-04-01 11:00:00 | Okategoriserat
Linköping vs Skellefteå. Photo: Peter Holgersson, Pic-Agency
Skellefteå vs. Linköping
Series: Tied 1-1
In what has been a rigorously intense series with a lightning fast tempo in both matches, it has been the team that has had their backs to the wall and faced a 0-2 score line that has fought back and showed immense character to tie the match and take the win in overtime giving the fans a series tied at 1-1.
It was Linköping who took the first away win of the series in Skellefteå Kraft Arena, coming back with two goals in the third period. The game tying goal coming from a controversial ‘play on’ decision from the referee after Robin Figren’s high stick met Bud Holloway’s helmet, Figren then continued on and assisted, clutch goal scorer, Simon Hjalmarsson to his third goal of this Slutspel.
It was then left to unexpected Linköping hero Erik Lindhagen to finish off the White Lion’s comeback fifteen minutes into the first overtime period when he scored his first ever Slutspel goal of his career.
- This is incredibly nice. We showed good moral and never gave up. You just need to enjoy the moment, said match winner Lindhagen after game one.
The skate was on the other foot in game two as Skellefteå went down 0-2 after Linköping scored their fifth short-handed goal of this Slutspel as Carl Söderberg netted his first goal of the playoffs. Oscar Lindberg replied one minute later to make the score 1-2 in which it stood until the final 32 seconds of the match. Viktor Arvidsson equalized in the dying moments with a fine point shot finally beating Linköping goaltender Christian Engstrand, who played outstanding throughout the entire match.
Engstrand’s hard work in goal could not stop Skellefteå from taking their momentum into overtime and equalizing the series 1-1, when John Klingberg hit the back of the net after finding himself with time to shoot in the high slot, after some nice work behind the goal from assistant captain Joakim Lindtröm who gave him a fine pass.
- It is obvious that it is important. They beat us in our home and now we have beat them here in theirs, so it feels good, explained OT hero Klingberg to C More when ask on the importance of taking the win in Linköping.
Skellefteå´s Lindberg in action. Photo: Peter Holgersson/Pic-Agency
Unfortunately a strong talking point in this series has been the performance of the referees. In both matches there have been key moments and decisions by the referees that have played an important role in the outcomes of the match. Consistency and key decision making has been under question after both matches as Linköping Coach Roger Melin expressed his concern at the post match press conference after game two:
- Today I think that there were unreasonable penalties and calls that were let go. It was strange what happened throughout the match.
The series promised to be tight and tight it has been, with the standard of hockey at its absolute highest and finest. Both teams have been skillful and physical and have created plenty of chances. Linköping have done a great job of restricting Skellefteå’s offensive pressure by being physical in the corners and always being ready to break out and counter-attack.
Where Skellefteå have done their best to be patient and concentrate on their own game and wait for their chances to come. Game three goes back up north to Skellefteå where these two teams will once again prove their hunger for a finals place and attempt take control of the series.
2013-03-26 10:00:00 | Okategoriserat
Skellefteå vs Linköping. Photo: Bert Söderström, Pic-Agency
(1) Skellefteå vs. (5) Linköping
Elitserien 2012/2013: Skellefteå 3-2
Slutspel History: Skellefteå 2-0 (Most recent: 2010/2012 QF Skellefteå won 4-3)
If history and statistics are to go by then this semi-final promises to be a tight match up. Skellefteå and Linköping met in the playoffs twice in Elitserien history, both series going to game seven with Skellefteå walking away victorious. In this year’s Slutspel these two clubs top the statistics in most categories, SAIK have the most efficient powerplay and penalty kill, LHC following directly behind. Linköping top the table in scoring efficiency, tallied by goals for against shots on goal, with Skellefteå coming in second.
Skellefteå’s goaltenders have been the most impressive these playoffs holding the highest save percentage and least goals against average whereas Linköping have the most offensive penalty kill, scoring three short-handed goals in their quarterfinal. In the five meetings these teams had in this year’s Elitserien, Skellefteå were winners three times and Linköping took the honours twice, with total goal scoring going to the White Lions 17-16. Each team also recorded one of their wins throughout the year on their opponent’s home ice.
Holloway and Möller. Photo: Bert Söderström, Pic-Agency
Skellefteå to progress: All the coaching staff at Skellefteå need to say is as simple as, "continue what you’ve been doing the whole year". With a stellar year behind them and a first round white wash of last year’s champions Brynäs, there is not much that needs to be change. As expected in the quarterfinals, the goal scoring didn’t stop from Skellefteå’s power forwards, Holloway, Lindström, Möller and Lindberg and once again they will need to be at their clinical best and take advantage of a slightly weaker Linköping goaltending pair.
One thing that will need to be addressed over the break is the on ice discipline. The men from the north sat in the penalty box for a massive 74 minutes, 64 of those minutes being from 2 minute penalties. Although their penalty kill has been strong, they cannot afford to give Linköping much time with an extra man as it will get exploited.
Carl Söderberg. Photo: Peter Holgersson/Pic-Agency
Linköping to progress: It is always a tough ask to take on the number one team in the league and it is no exception in this one. Linköping were impressive in their quarterfinal against HV71 knocking them out after five games. It was their mental strength that caught the eye the most after being stoned 0-6 in the first match of the series, they came back and won four straight with two games going to overtime after crawling back from two goal deficits. They will need to carry this momentum into their tough semi-final matchup and continue this "never say die attitude" if they are any hope to move into the final.
Goal scoring king, Carl Söderberg returns to the line-up after his four match ban and will be looking to redeem himself in this series as he has watched his two forward line mates Pär Arlbrandt and Simon Hjalmarsson carry his team into the semi-finals. This reuniting first line will need to put forward a dominant show and continue their magical form to get the puck past the outstanding Skellefteå goaltenders, if not it will be difficult for their team to progress.
2013-03-26 09:45:00 | Okategoriserat
Luleå vs Färjestad. Photo: Fredrik Sundvall, Pic-Agency
(2) Färjestad vs. (3) Luleå
Elitserien 2012/2013: Färjestad 4-1
Slutspel History: Färjestad 5-3 (Most recent: 2003/2004 QF Färjestad won 4-1)
Luleå will head into this semi-final series as slight underdogs after only being able to knock off the Karlstadiens once in this year’s Elitserien. Both teams played in tight, physical quarter-final matches, as most games in both series being decided by one or two crucial plays. Luleå had the tougher of the two quarter-final match ups, needing one extra game to progress than Färjestad, resulting in three days less recovery and preparation time before the semis.
Färjestad have also been more efficient on the powerplay and penalty kill than Luleå throughout this year’s regular season and playoffs. An interesting battle in this one will be in between the posts with Färjestad’s Alexander Salak and Luleå’s Johan Gustafsson going head to head. Salak having the more impressive save percentage so far in this Slutspel, although Gustafsson has the better goals against average. The winner of this battle could be the hero for their team and see their team into the final.
Over the five games played in the year’s Elitserien, Färjestad have clearly got the better of the Norrbotten’s club, taking all three home matches and an all important psychological win at Luleå’s COOP Arena.
Färjestad knocked out MODO. Photo Simone Syversson, Pic Agency
Färjestad to progress: Färjestad will need to be a little more assertive in this series if they are to move to the final. They can ill afford to let Luleå into any match as they did against MODO, as the men from Norrland will have no hesitation in putting them away if they get a sniff of the win. A strong focus will need to be on playing hard in front of inform Luleå goaltender, Johan Gustafsson.
If the forwards can work hard down low and give the likes of Chris Lee and Magnus Nygren the chance to shoot from the top into traffic, they will see the goals continuing to flow as they did in the quarter-finals. Salak will need to continue to be as strong as he has been all year if his team is going to play off to be Sweden’s Hockey Masters.
Luleå against Frölunda. Photo: Fredrik Sundvall, Pic-Agency
Luleå to progress: Luleå come off the longest series of any of the semi-finalists, being taken to six physical and rough matches by Frölunda. A lot of positives can be taken from the series and the shorter turn around can also play into their hands as they can harness their motivation and momentum. Having thirteen different goal scorers and eighteen different point scorers in the quarter-final proves that they are a four line team and they will need all the depth that they can to get past Färjestad in this semi.
Luleå need to improve their special teams play and take advantage with the extra man during this series to be able to put pressure on their opposition. If they let the Karlstadiens into their rhythm or do not protect their lead when they have it, they will not see any more hockey in this year’s Slutspel.
2013-03-24 11:00:00 | Okategoriserat
Toni Koivisto and Niklas Olausson. Photo: Per Friske, Pic-Agency
Luleå vs. Frölunda
Series: Luleå win 4-2
Luleå and Frölunda put on another tough show in front of a packed crowd in Göteberg, although most of the ten thousand fans left Scandinavium with a bitter taste in their mouth after being knocked out of this year's SM-Slutspel, losing the series 2-4 against a well deserving Luleå.
With each team winning their home matches over the first five games, it was Luleå who finally broke their opposition away from home in another tight and physical match. First period goals to Cam Abbott and Daniel Gunnarsson were the difference in the match after Frölunda arguably got the better of their northern rivals in the second and third period. Luleå ran out to a 2-0 lead after the first and maintained their two goal lead to win the match 4-2. Something that Frölunda Coach Kent Johansson believed cost them the match.
- We came out bad. We had really good expectations but it was Luleå that totally dominated. I think that we tried extremely hard but we paid for the first period.
Frölunda Coach Kent Johansson. Photo: Per Friske, Pic-Agency
It has been a true playoff hockey series between these two fantastic teams, they have given their fans everything that they could have expected from Slutspel hockey, wearing their hearts on their sleeves and fighting to the absolute end.
Luleå are moving on to the semi-finals thanks to some brilliant goaltending from Johan Gustafsson in the final two matches of this series and their ability to stay mentally strong and grind out the win in four tense and tight matches. Although Frölunda were a very worthy opponent and brought forth a zealous effort, they were beaten by a stronger and more determined Luleå team.
- It feels very good, I think we deserved to move on, we were the better team in almost every match, said Daniel Gunnarsson when asked how it felt to go to the semi-finals.
Series Points Leaders
Niklaus Olausson LHF- 8 points (1G+7A)
Linus Persson LHF- 5 points (3G+2A)
Joel Lundqvist FRÖ- 5points (3G+2A)