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A Modest Start of Season Turns Into A Race for the Top

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After eight pre-season games it was finally time to enjoy the first weekend on tour with the team.  The first destination of our journey was newcomers Sundsvall Wildcats (where I spent my first 20 years on this world). It’s not really home anymore but still felt a bit special seeing this team join our top league after working towards it since the very start seven years ago. I will admit I didn’t expect them to put up much of a fight in the beginning however it was a pleasant surprise them proving me wrong.

Sure they ended up defeated 1-6 by Linköping but they held up longer than I would have thought and already the next day got their first win against former powerhouse Segeltorp. Still with a promising start of the season I have no doubt they will end up in the last two spots of the league, although they have already scraped together more points than last years newcomers HV71 did in their first season.

After starting the season with a secure victory against Sundsvall we steamed on towards talented Leksand and their quaint little cottages. Leksand in Dalarna is a beautiful village to visit but also a very limited area, not really somewhere I would ever consider living still it’s nice to drop by once and again to experience their very friendly population and a grand hockey legacy. The night was spent feasting on homemade hamburgers and just relaxing for the first real test of the year, they are a great group of leaders this gang and it’s a pleasure accompanying them on the road.

And what a test the Leksand game would end up being, we got off to an almost too easy start leading the game 0-2 only a few minutes in. Things did take a turn for the worse quite soon after that.  A few defensive mistakes and giving Leksands deadly efficient break-away specialists Linn Peterson, Iveta Koka and Cecilia Östberg time to do what they’re best at and suddenly the home team had taken the lead 3-2. They kept on rolling and pleasing the homecrowd. Leksand ended up winning the game 6-3 and sweeping the first weekend. 

A bitter defeat and following a 12-1 blowout at home against Munksund led to another defeat, this time against giants Modo. It was clear the league would be divided into two groups, not literally but there is quite a difference between the top 4 teams and the bottom 4. As of right now 9 round of 28 has been played and as expected the top three is very evenly matched as well as the bottom of the league.

As for Linköping, I must say I feel very confident about the teams progress so far, sure there was a couple of bumps in the beginning they’re now up at five straight wins where two are against the reigning champs AIK.

I’m glad to report that former UMD goalie and national team hero Kim Martin-Hasson has returned from her hamstring injury achilles rupture before Worlds and will be returning to play her 4th Olympics in February. Terrific news for Sweden trying to reclaim a medal position.

Since women’s hockey reporter Gabriella Fundaro invited me to join a custom NCAA women’s hockey fantasy league I’ve started to keep track of the college hockey scene a lot more, especially favorites North Dakota and I was astonished on how high the quality of play really is. I would advise more people to buy and stream a team of their choice from the NCAA, it’s a lot more value for your money than men’s hockey and also a lot more entertaining, in my opinion at least.

This upcoming weekend I will go to see my Linköping play away almost at the Arctic circle, a nice ”little” trip of almost 2000 miles(!), so I’ll have a lot of sitting time by car, bus and train for at least 15 hours… But hey, as long as it’s both fun and rewarding to go I will keep on as far as I can go. The reward of seeing your team do their best is enough for any true fan!

Two weeks from now our national team is travelling to Lake Placid for the seasons first 4 nation tourment against Canada, USA and Finland. It will be very exciting to see if they can put up a real fight against the giants or if Goliath will have a easy time whooping our asses once again?

Until next time, have a blast and keep cheering for all the fantastic girls out there doing their thing on the ice (and in other sports as well). All the way from Alaskan supergoalies to Hannah Westbrook playing the season in Australia, how cool is that?!

//Mats

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