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ICE HOCKEY

Swedish hockey fans set to break European record

More than 31,000 spectators are expected to brave Sweden’s chilly winter temperatures to attend a hockey match in Gothenburg on Monday night, setting a new European record in the process.

Swedish hockey fans set to break European record

Tickets for every one of the 31,144 spots in Gothenburg’s Ullevi arena have been sold for a match-up pitting the city’s own Frölunda HC against perennial rival and defending champions of Sweden’s top professional league, Färjestad BK of Karlstad in western Sweden.

“It’s fantastic that so many want to see the match. I’ve never experienced anything like it, not even when we played the finals,” said Frölunda club head Mats Ahdrian to the TT news agency.

The current attendance record for a Swedish hockey match was set at Ullevi back in 1962 when Frölunda beat Stockholm club Djurdården 3-2.

While the official attendance tally for the historic match stands at 23,192, several thousand people without tickets also climbed over the gates, bringing the crowd to an estimated 28,000.

The prevailing European club ice hockey attendance record was set in Switzerland in 2007 when 30,076 watched a game between Bern and Langnau.

Ahdrian explained that the intensity of the rivalry between Frölunda and Färjestad likely played a part in the record-setting ticket sales.

“I think The fact that it’s a competitive league match contributed to the huge interest from the public,” he told TT.

A win by Frölunda, currently in fifth place in the Elitserien, would help it close the eight point gap separating it from third place Färjestad.

To add a bit of historical flair, players on the home team plan to don advertisement-free replicas of the jerseys worn by Frölunda in 1962 when it set the previous attendance record.

In addition, teams will also switch ends midway through the third period, as was common practice during outdoor games in the days before indoor arenas were commonplace.

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HOCKEY

Sweden’s Rasmus Dahlin first overall pick in NHL draft

Rasmus Dahlin became just the second Swedish-born player to be selected first overall in the NHL draft on Friday when the Buffalo Sabres used the top pick on the rangy teenage defenceman.

Sweden's Rasmus Dahlin first overall pick in NHL draft
Rasmus Dahlin is bound for Buffalo. Photo: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images/AFP
Dahlin, who plays for Frolunda HC in the Swedish league and was widely expected to be the first pick, follows Mats Sundin, who was the top choice of the Quebec Nordiques in 1989.
 
“I just want everything to start,” Dahlin said. “I'm going to bring everything I have to that city. I'm super excited. I can't wait.”
 
Russian forward Andrei Svechnikov went second to the Carolina Hurricanes and the Montreal Canadiens used the third pick to get Finnish centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
 
The draft had a decided Europe flavour as four of the top six players were Europeans. The first American was Brady Tkachuk who went to the Ottawa Senators at No. 4 and the Phoenix Coyotes took the first Canadian Barrett Hayton with the fifth pick. 
 
The 18-year-old Dahlin said he was happy to call Buffalo home despite the fact they haven't had a winning season in the past seven seasons and have missed the playoffs eight years in a row.
 
“It's amazing to finally put on the Buffalo Sabres' jersey,” Dahlin said. “I've been there twice. I love that city.”
 
The six-foot-three, 185-pound Dahlin was honoured as the best defenceman at the 2018 world junior championship in Buffalo, registering six assists in seven games. He also played twice for Sweden as a 17-year-old at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
 
At number six, the Detroit Red Wings chose the brash Halifax Mooseheads winger Filip Zadina who vowed to make teams that passed on him pay down the road.
 
“I'm telling my agent if they will pass on me, I will fill their net with the puck,” the Czech Zadina said. “Yeah, it's just I want to prove to them that they have done a bad decision.”
 
The lone trade of the day came before the draft when the Colorado Avalanche acquired backup goalie Philipp Grubauer and defenceman Brooks Orpik from the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals for the 47th pick. The Capitals were willing to get rid of Orpik and Grubauer so they could create salary cap space to sign free agents.