Just got back from the final road trip with the team before Christmas, sure it’s a few games left before every one gets a break but it’s a sweet deal to finish the fall phase of the season with four straight games at home. As it stands right now Modo (Örnsköldsvik) leads the league on 41 points in 16 games only a point ahead of my team LHC (Linköping) and those are the two teams squaring off this upcoming Saturday, some advantage for LHC who is coming off a strong 12 game winning streak (still a bit left to Minnesotas 62, but why not?). Bound to be one of the best games of the season, and still there will probably not be more than 200 people attending, which is a shame really… If people would only give the girls a shot at a mid day game such as this, they would realize how awesome women’s hockey can really be. Beside the games between USA and Canada and some of the match-ups in the NCAA this is as good as it gets, a lot of speed, lot of physical play and creative plays to get by two very competent defenses.
There has been a great storm hitting Sweden the last couple of weeks regarding the women’s to be or not to be at the 2014 Winter Olympics and the Swedish Olympic Committee has not yet reached a descision if they get to go. After being written down by media during the 4-nations tournament in Lake Placid the tides have turned and now positive news are getting through, reports from top games in our elite league of our to be olympians performing their best are presented in both news papers and on national television. Perhaps the most important thing is that Leif Boork has been brought in as assistant coach to the Swedish national team, he comes with an enormous amount of hockey experience from coaching both the Swedish and Norwegian men’s national teams as well as powerhouses such as Djurgården, Modo, Brynäs and Frölunda. But it’s not primarily his experiences which makes the biggest difference but his powerful standing within the Swedish hockey community, to have a powerful voice like this promoting women’s hockey is extremely important and even if I was sceptical at first I’m now very pleased he decided to join our cause.
As the Olympic preparations continues Finland, Russia and Germany will come to Sweden mid-December for a 4-nations tournament. It will be very interesting to see how far the Russians have gotten with their training, don’t matter how much I want our women to succeed, I do believe Russia will be a hard nut to crack for both Sweden and Finland. As the other teams play on as usual Russia is at the moment on US soil starting a series of games against Minnesota-Duluth today (Tuesday), Bemidji tomorrow and North Dakota on Friday and Saturday and finally another game against UMD come Monday. Quite excited about watching the North Dakota games, not really sure about what to expect but it should be a couple of high paced games. I do always believe in the power of my favorites though and surely both Krzyzaniak and Dalen will unleash their awesomeness upon Mother Russia!
To sum up the season so far. Since 21st of August I’ve attended 27 women’s hockey games and there are a lot more coming up, A LOT. Since Kim Martin-Hasson returned from the achilles injury she has yet not lost a game, going 10-0-0 with a save percentage of 95,95%, how is that for shaping up to the Olympics? Another very important name who has recently returned from an injury is Minnesota State graduate Emilia Andersson and she has also shown great promise for February, both of them has been nominated for Sweden in the upcoming tournament in Örebro, their first appearence in the national team this season.
It has also been a real treat watching the North Dakota games on late weekend nights this season, I only watched one game last season and now I’ve seen 10 of 15 games. The have managed to build a great program and I feel very lucky to have seen the game that ended Minnesotas magic win streak. Also it has given me a chance to see old favorites like Andrea Dalen, Josefine Jakobsen, Johanna Fällman and Michelle Karvinen plays as well as I have found some new ones like Susanna Tapani and Halli Krzyzaniak, the latter who has climed all the way up to my favorite starting line-up, I really hope to see her play for Canada when the World Championships are being played in Sweden 2015.
Have a great time combining your christmas shopping with the ongoing hockey season, hope you all get what you wish for the most!
P.S. After a pre-season bet I had to wear a kilt when LHC was on the road playing AIK and the game ended 2-7, a tremendous victory for LHC and since then I have worn the kilt for every game and the streak just keeps going, so can’t take it off now! You can imagine how many people come up an talk to you when you’re in the stands wearing a kilt. The picture features me and the AIK fan who I made the bet with. D.S.