January 8, 2012 Vaxjo, Sweden
I can't believe it is January already. We only have 20 games left in our season and it is going to be a battle to the end for the last playoff spots. Right now there a 6 teams fighting for the last 3 spots and we are within 6 points of each other. It is the closest the league has ever been and should be an exciting finish. The biggest thing to avoid here is being in one of the last to teams in the league and having to play in a qualification tournament to stay in the league. My team won that tournament and came up to the top division last season. Teams 1-8 make the playoffs, 9-10 are finished, but safe, and 11-12 have to play the top 4 teams from the second league. I like our chances going forward though and I think we will be pushing for of the playoff spots. We have been missing out two top scorers and starting goalie but have managed some big wins our last two games. Guys have really stepped up and the whole team is sacrificing everything to win. We had a guy block a shot last game with the back of his hand. He came back to play in the third period and scored the tying goal for us. After the game his hand looked like it had a tennis ball on the back of it and later that night he found out it was broken. I can't say that the Swedish players on my team aren't tough, that is for sure. I was able to catch a few World Junior hockey games on TV here. It is such an exciting tournament and the fans in Alberta were unbelievable. If Canada couldn't win it I am glad the the Swedish team did. Those guys a national hero's over here right now and you can see how proud people are of them winning. Guys think Canada should hold the tournament every year because it is so much more exciting with all the fans there. Sean McAslan has made a come back recently as well. He suited up for the Nottingham Panthers this weekend in England's Elite Ice Hockey League. He had a goal and an assist in his first game back in over a year and a half. It is nice to see him back playing again. As the season winds down I will keep you updated on out chase for the playoff. I hope everyone is having a great New Year and enjoying the strange weather in Calgary.
October 26, 2011 Vaxjo, Sweden
Everything is going really good here in Vaxjo. My team continues to improve and we have won 4 of our last 5 games and are still hanging onto one of the last playoff spots. We have played 14 games now and we have 5 more before there is a nation team break and we go 10 days without games. We will get a few days off during that time so I am looking forward too some rest and maybe going somewhere for a few days. The league has a pretty good website that shows all of our highlights on it. It is in Swedish, but is pretty easy to navigate. Here is a link to the video section if anyone wants to check out some Swedish hockey. http://www.elitserienplay.se/ My team is the Vaxjo Lakers. We are going in a busy time in our schedule and play every second day for the next 2 weeks. I really like how they spread the games out over here in Sweden as compared to the AHL back home. Most times in the AHL you play 3 games on the weekend and then don't play all week. I think this schedule allows you to be ready and feel good for every game. Never mind the fact that we also Charter flights to most of our away games further than 4 hours. It is the norm to bus until 4:00am and then play the next afternoon in the AHL. I don't miss doing that. I guess that is when they sell the most tickets, but I can tell you that Sunday games in the AHL are not that entertaining because most times its both teams third game in 2 and half days. I hope every bodies hockey season are going well and that you are all having fun. We have just added a second week to our hockey school at South Fish Creek park July 16-20. Please pass on the news if you know anyone in that area. Have safe and fun Halloween.
September 26, 2011 Vaxjo, Sweden
The last few weeks have really flown by and I can't believe it is almost October already. My family arrived safe and sound, but they were both tired from the long trip. Things really get a lot busier with a 2 year old back in the house, but I wouldn't change it for anything. We have played 5 games now and I think we are you to have a good year. As a new team in this league most people don't expect that we will do very well. We have won 2 games and lost 3, but every game has been decided by one goal and I think we are only going to get better as more guys get used to playing in the top league. The team won the second league last season and moved up to the top division. There is a lot of excitement in the city right now because of the hockey team. We have just moved into our new arena. It will be really nice when it is completely finished. They are a little behind, but the main things are up and running. It is always funny that when the season starts I never know what day it actually is. Often times we have games on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and then Sunday off, but they all seem to blend into each other. It is also interesting to follow the NHL camps going on back home. I can't believe the amount of suspensions they are handing out already. There seems to one every game. I think its good though and hopefully the stiffer penalties will eliminate some of the dirty plays. I think there are so many issues right now because the NHL is trying to set a new standard on what is acceptable and the players need to adjust. Also the fact that there is so much competition for jobs that some players have to play right on the edge of the line in order to get noticed and keep or get a job in the NHL. We play MODO tomorrow. MODO is the team where some of the best Swedish players have come from. The Sedin's, Marcus Naslund, and Peter Forsberg to name a few. Naslund and Forsberg are now the managers of the team. Two years ago when I played in Sweden they both came back and played for the team. I played my old team on Saturday and it was nice to see some the guys I played with. In hockey it always seems that you have some friends everywhere you go and it always nice to say hi to guys. Now I am headed outside to enjoy the warm fall weather we are having here.
August 25, 2011 Helsinki, Finland
I hope everyone is enjoying the last few days of Summer. It has been a busy two weeks for me in Vaxjo. We have played 4 games now and so far the team is still undefeated. I was able to score in my first game and things have been going well ever since. I have had good chemistry with my right winger Tommi Kalio and we have been able to score in all 4 games so far. I finally received my sticks a few days after my last post and now everything feels comfortable on the ice. We are in Helsinki right now and have 2 games this weekend in Espoo, Finland. After that we have to take the boat back to Stockholm. It is a 15 hours boat ride, however we get rooms and are able to sleep as it is an overnight ride. It is amazing they can drive a ship that size in between all the small islands around Stockholm. I have had time to explore Vaxjo some more and I think it should be a fun city to live in. Once I get back to Vaxjo things will get even busier. My family will be arriving on Wednesday and then I have to get back into chasing a two year old around shape again.
August 8, 2011. Vaxjo, Sweden
Hi everyone. I hope everybody enjoys the blogs Matt and I are doing. I have been in Sweden for a week now. The first few days are always tough, getting used to the time change and leaving all my friends and family back home. It was good to keep busy with workouts in the mornings and then practices in the afternoons. We had the weekend off so I was able to take the train into Stockholm for the night and enjoyed walking around the city. I had to practice the first two days with all new equipment and sticks as the airline lost 3 of my bags. I am still waiting for my sticks now a week later. Trying to track them down is next to impossible. Anyone who has tried to call an airline about lost luggage will understand, no one answers and no one calls you back. I am staying with another Canadian right now, Liam Redox. My apartment will be ready later this week and then I can start to settle in. We have our first game on Wednesday so it should be another fun week and then I play my old team on Monday.
August 1, 2011. Calgary, AB