Skellefteå crushes Luleå for ice hockey gold

Skellefteå AIK capitalized on its third straight trip to the finals of Sweden's top hockey league, the Elitserien, overpowering northern Sweden rivals Luleå to capture its first championship trophy in 35 years.

Skellefteå crushes Luleå for ice hockey gold
Skellefteå dominates to win Swedish hockey gold

“This is awesome, we really fought for this,” Skellefteå goaltender Joacim Eriksson told Kanal 5 after Thursday night’s 4-0 shutout, his second of the best-of-seven series which saw his team sweep Luleå with four straight victories.

“The whole team has been fantastic the whole time and they give a little extra all the time.”

IN PICTURES: 2013 Elitserien finals: Skellefteå vs Luleå

Heading into the playoffs, Skellefteå was the team to beat after finishing first in 2012-2013 regular season play with 38 wins and 17 loses, while Luleå finished in third place with 34 wins and 21 losses.

But defeating Skellefteä, which clawed its way back to Sweden’s top league in 2006 after 16 years in the second-tier Allsvenskan, proved difficult in the post-season.

Throughout its 13-match playoff march to gold in 2013, Skellefteå lost just once, a 2-3 overtime loss in game one of the semi-finals against Linköping.

SEE ALSO: Embracing Sweden’s ‘ridiculous’ sports

On Thursday night, Skellefteå once again asserted its dominance, jumping out to an early first period lead at Luleå’s Coop Arena on a goal by winger Oscar Möller three and a half minutes into the match.

Skellefteå extended its lead to 2-0 at the 15 minute mark of the first period following a spectacular individual effort by centre Erik Forssel, who powered his way past three Luleå players before jamming the puck past goalie Johan Gustafsson.

From then on, Skellefteå never looked back, with their relentless attack and impenetrable defence keeping Luleå on their heels the entire night.

SEE ALSO: My Sweden – Skellefteå: ‘The northern lights are simply spectacular’

In a last desperate effort to make something happen, Luleå pulled their goalie with four minutes remaining in the game. The move backfired, however, with Forssel flicking a puck into the empty net from centre ice less than 30 seconds later, extinguishing any remaining doubts that Skellefteå would end the night as the best team in Swedish professional hockey.

Skellefteå’s 4-0 sweep was the first in an Elitserien final series since 2003.

“You have to admit that we lost to a much, much better team,” a dejected Luleå head coach Jonas Rönnqvist told Sveriges Television (SVT) following the match.

SEE ALSO: Swedish ice hockey: five fun Elitserien facts

Meanwhile, Skellefteå assistant coach Bert Robertsson could hardly contain his joy as players and coaches stormed the ice and donned the customary gold helmets to celebrate their victory.

“It’s magical,” he told Kanal 5.

“This is what it’s all about. We’ve fought and fought and fought. So many have worked so hard behind the scenes. It seems fair that we’re being rewarded for all the work we’ve put in.”

Victor Arvidsson, Skellefteå’s up and coming winger who turned 20 earlier in the month and notched five goals during the playoffs summed things up with a smile.

“We played as well as we could. We had nothing to lose,” he told Kanal 5.

The Local/dl

Follow The Local on Twitter

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


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.