Photo: Marcus Vilson/Swe Press Photo
Between 2012 and 2015 Skellefteå AIK was the dominating team in Swedish Hockey League as they won the regular season in four straight years. Also, Skellefteå won the Trophy Le Mat twice in a row and the team has been in seven playoff finals in the past eight years. But now another team has entered the scene, Växjö Lakers.
Växjö Lakers won the Swedish Hockey League’s regular season in a superior way as they ended up 21 points ahead of Djurgården Hockey in second place. In 52 games Växjö only lost ten games after full time. The team from Småland County was, during the whole regular season, amazingly consistent and really didn’t show any weaknesses. Even if they were trailing, the team most of the time found ways to win games.
Växjö has won SHL regular season two years in a row (2016/17 and 2017/18). In 2014/15 Växjö won their first trophy Le Mat as they defeated Skellefteå AIK in Final Game 6. This season they copied their achievement. After only having lost one game in the playoffs (against Brynäs IF), Växjö once again defeated Skellefteå. But this time in four straight games. Although Skellefteå have dominated Swedish Hockey for several years, there seems to be a new team in town.
Do we get to see a new era in Swedish Hockey? Another dominating team? Some of the experts seem to think so and I’m prepared to agree with them. I’ve been following Växjö Lakers for the past four years and it was only a matter of time before the organisation was going to be one of Sweden’s strongest organisations. Since Växjö Lakers Head Coach Sam Hallam stepped in as a leading coach, the team has taken enormous steps. A head coach who has the ability to get the players together. Sam Hallam is an extraordinary thorough trainer with a hawk-eye for details. But he’s not alone. General Manager, Henrik Evertsson has had an amazing eye for talent and a strong ability to put a team together.
But it’s not only the staff who lead the Swedish Champions all the way. Most of us know the goalie Viktor Fasth, but not many know who Viktor Andrén is. In the fourth semifinal game, Fasth was injured with a concussion and Andrén stepped in. From being a backup-goalie, he stole the whole show and became one of the main key players. Växjös’ defensive lineup was not really tested during the whole playoffs . Defenders such as Eric Martinsson, Daniel Rahimi, Martin Lundberg and Joel Persson just to name a few, played with a big confidence and didn’t make many mistakes. A complete set up.
Elias Pettersson, Robert Rosén, Tuomas Kiiskinen, Dennis Rasmussen, Brendan Shinnimin, Erik Josefsson, Linus Fröberg and Liam Reddox. These are the guys who led the team on the ice. They were hard working, fast skating, physical, smart, sacrificing and constantly worrying the opponents. Especially the superior talent of Pettersson. A young player who was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2017 Round 1 as number five overall. Petterson sometimes had a look of ignorance and didn’t seem to know what to do. So wrong we were. Experts, teammates, fans, media and the whole Canucks organisation was thrilled by his method of playing.
In the end, Växjö Lakers couldn’t be where they are today if it wasn’t for the love of the organisation. Each and everyone, both on and off the ice is supporting the team. Växjö Lakers have begun an era and I’m pretty certain that we will continue to see great things from them in the future.