Swedish Hockey League (SHL) - December Review

Swedish Hockey League (SHL) - December Review

31 Dec 2018Adrian J»

Whilst everyone is staring at the future stars at the Junior World Championship in Vancouver, the SHL season has been rumbling on with only a small break for the Channel One Cup at the beginning for the month. The league has divided into two groups - the top 11 teams, separated by just 13 points and the bottom three separated by three points. It is so tight this year that goal difference may be the deciding factor between playoff or relegation come March. Below we can have a look at the top four teams at New Year:- Frölunda Indians, Luleå Hockey, Färjestad and Linköping.


 The Top Four

1. Frölunda Indians 

The team from Gothenburg have had a poor start to the month losing to 12th and 13th placed Mora IK and Örebro HK letting in 10 goals in the process to cause their netminders to slip in the overall save percentages. However, they have bounced back winning both matches in a double header with bottom of the table Timrå IK and winning 5-2 away from home at Skellefteå AIK

If the beginning of the year belonged to the undrafted American Ryan Lasch, December has been a month when Anaheim Ducks drafted, Max Friberg has impressed last leading the team with nine points (3G+6A) in eight games.

Lasch and captain Joel Lundqvist (pictured) still lead the team in total points, but the American has missed a handful of matches following a injury during the CHL quarterfinal match and has slipped from top spot to eighth in Total Points. However, the team continues to show the form and strength in depth , with players like Friberg, which still makes them my favourite to win both the CHL and SHL.

2. Luleå HF

The team may have struggled this month, winning only half of their eight matches, but still own a high league standing after an excellent November.

They have had a tendency to run hot or cold, twice losing without finding the net and then winning three times by three or more goals.

Whilst 29 year old American, Jack Connelly continues to lead the team overall on Total Points, it has been his experienced Swedish teammates who have kept the team in the chase and they now lie only one point behind Frölunda. Leading by example in December it has been assistant captain and 32 year old, Niklas Olausson, with 9 points (5G+4A) for the Norrbotten club. Consistency will be the change that is needed if 2019 is be a repeat if their only Swedish championship victory in 1996.

3. Färjestad BK

The team from Karlstad have had great form over the month winning five out of eight matches, not losing at home in regulation and knocking in 21 goals in the process. So whilst they have blanked both Linköping HC and Luleå HF in 1-0 victories, their style has usually been more offensive simply trying to outscore their opponent.

Finnish back Jesse Virtanen is now joint-leading the league in assists, with 19, as as being the league's top scoring defenseman with 21 points in total. He has left the goalscoring to his teammates, spreading that honour around the team with Joakim Nygård, Detroit Red Wings drafted Johan Ryno and Jesper Olofsson leading the way.

4. Linköping HC

The team that started the season almost faultlessly, and after a dip seemed to have fund themselves again in December have won five out of seven matches, including three in a row at the end of the month. As usual, they have enjoyed finding the net, even if they also tend to leak goals at the back, scoring 23 and letting in 21.

Top scorer, former NHLer and Canadian Olympic Bronze medalist, Derek Roy continues to lead the club on points with 9, including 8 assists in December to joint lead the whole SHL in this category with 19. But the final month of the year has also seen Canadian and former AHL Star, Andrew Gordon start to find his rhythm again. He has scored nearly half of his season's points this month, including the Game Winning Goal in Sudden Death against Malmö Redhawks whilst the team's other crowd pleaser, American Olympian, Broc Little scores the game winner against Färjestad

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