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Swedish League Growing into Worlds Best League Outside of North America?

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Let’s get it started!

The season is upon us! Sure the league is already under way here in Sweden and we’re heading into round five next weekend, but still I’m so anxious about the star spangled NWHL blasting off. Not to mention the CWHL, NCAA and CIS, it’s exciting to keep up on how our overseas European’s are doing at the top of the hockey world!

Even more excited though about watching the Swedish league grow into the worlds best league outside of North America. We’ve had some very productive European players in the league since the start back in 2008, but it was really the arrival of Bailey Bram and Jennifer Wakefield that raised the status of coming to Sweden. It is kind of huge that world class players like Florence Schelling, Michelle Karvinen, Andrea Dalen and Emma Stauber has joined the league for this season. Hard to match the NWHL signings but we are getting some punch towards becoming the worlds third best league.

After seeing some of the pre-season games I predicted this will be the most evenly matched season since the league started or at least the top 8 of the 10 teams. And it sure has been some interesting results right off the bat, AIK has gone undefeated so far through some tight games, big surprise though that they lost their only point so far against Sundsvall who has gone 20-0 in two of their other games combined. Wicked how momentum shifts from game to game, anticipated season favorites Luleå had a easy ride on their Leksand tour winning 5-2 on the rematch the day after however the young Leksand team came back with a 2-1 victory tying up the weekend.
Last year Linköping went through the season undefeated and I dare to say that no team will be even close to that record this year. Tight odd goal games, unpredictable heroes and eight games more for each team makes this the most thrilling season ever!

I have yet to see the last three teams play, still I have already gotten to see many of the imported talents this season and there are some real treasures in that bunch. One of the most impressive yet has been Czech star goalie Klara Peslarova, still only 18 years old but what a performance she put up this last weekend keeping a thundering Modo team scoreless all the way to a shoot-out, it ended in a loss but the point they got was all hers. That’s a player to keep a lookout for next year at Worlds in Kamloops! We got a bunch of others as well, star players from small hockey nations that most of the women’s hockey world has never heard of like Slovenian Pia Pren, Danish Josefine Persson and Hungary’s Lili Pinter. All of them have been impressive from the start and all of them brining something unique to their teams. I kind of wish we could have even more exotic imports because there are so many talented players out there flying under the radar. If I had the resources I would pick out a world team entirely without players from the top 8 nations of the World Championship system adding the likes of Ela Filipec (Croatia), Jasmine Horner-Pascoe (New Zealand), Estelle Duvin (France) and Vanesa Abrisqueta (Spain) just to name a few. Players with character, poise and skills to make a team with the potential of claiming gold medals in essentially any league in Europe.

When it comes to North American players, we might have more in the league now than ever before. I mentioned former Duluth captain Emma Stauber before, she’s just one of many new additions to cross the Atlantic. HV71 where Stauber plays also brought in RPI graudate Delaney Middlebrook and the two Calgary Dinos Jenna Smith and Chelsea Peterson. Tegan Schroeder and Danielle Stone joined Sundsvall from CWHL’s Calgary Inferno. Last years Winter Universiade Canadian Maggie Litchfield-Medd brings excellence to the offense of SDE and a late addition to Linköpings roster was Plattsburgh’s high scoring Shannon Stewart. Even more can be found in the 1st division as Gothenburg added St. Cloud’s Kalli Funk and Brown’s Lauren Vella to their roster, also still going strong for Stockholm’s Haninge Anchors is former UND student Anne Girtz. I have to say that every single one brings something extra to their respective teams, there are something about the North American attitude that makes the players grow even larger in their teams over here. I can only encourage the young players to watch and lears from these role models, ask them about tips and tricks since they have an whole other skill set than any European player.

To summarize we have a grand season ahead, not only here in Sweden but there’s a lot of good things happening with the NWHL about to set of and also the EWHL has grown even further across Europe looking to be more even than before as well. Glad to say that women’s hockey is turning a new page, now I wish to see them make it to the next NHL video game not unlike what FIFA did, bringing in 12 national teams to their newly released game!

Make it count people, these girls are worth everything!

Mats

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