Växjö Lakers win the Swedish national championship 2017-8

Växjö Lakers win the Swedish national championship 2017-8

22 Apr 2018Adrian J»

Växjö Lakers were deservedly crowned Swedish national championships 2017-8 after a convincing 4-0 series win over Skellefteå AIK. Whilst their opponents had been best in points scored during the playoffs, the Lakers utterly outclassed the team who had played in six of the last seven finals beating them 20-1 across the four games. A special mention should go to Lakers forward, Elias Pettersson who won playoff MVP, with top points production including six goals in this series against Skellefteå AIK. Read on for an in game by game review of the series.


Game 1

Both defenseman Noah Welch and first choice keeper Viktor Fasth were unavailable due to injury for the Lakers.

But it didn't seem to make much difference to the home team, as they pressured SAIK into uncharacteristic mistakes in their own zone which led to goals from former Portland Pirates (AHL) hard man, Brendan Shinnimin and then captain, Liam Reddox in the first period.

The pain continued in the second period for the northerners. They were unable to establish any form of attack whatsoever as Växjö's high forechecking repeatedly disrupted their play before they got anywhere near the Lakers' defensive area.

Then the home club turned up the skills level. First, a beautiful team goal as Joel Persson passed from behind his own the goal line along the right hand side to Pettersson, who entered the zone and chipped the puck delicately to Robert Rosén who shot to the right of Joni Ortio beating him on the narrow side for 3-0. Then Elias Pettersson set up and scored the next goal. He took off and drove into the offensive zone with force, momentarily losing the puck as he squeezed through two defenders, only to receive back from team mate Shinnimin seconds later and set it firmly in the net. Magic!

4-0 after 40 minutes would have been unthinkable before the game. And the third period produce three more goals, not a classic Skellefteå comeback, but a total whitewash, as Andrew Calof, then Rosén, and finally, Daniel Rahimi all found the net destroying Skellefeteå 7-0 with second string keeper, Viktor Andrén, gaining a shutout.

Psychologically, after a victory which seemed to show an enormous difference between the two teams, Skellefteå must win their next game in their hometown to be in a shout of turning the series around.

Game 2

Apart from having the "extra man" in terms of the partisan home crowd, Skellefteå AIK were able to field a team including Jonathan Pudas. The back, who on average has the most ice time in the whole team, played only four minutes in the first game due to an undisclosed injury sustained just before puck drop. However , it was as business as usual in Växjö Lakers and the same names proved their status and this season's playoff hockey players par excellence.

It was Elias Pettersson who perhaps shone brightest in the first period. Receiving the puck from Rosén who had driven into the zone at speed. The 19 year old had the sense to pause long enough to see his best option was to sling the puck back to Daniel Rahimi who had come in fresh from the bench into the oceans of space left in Rosén's wake. The defenseman smasedh the puck into the top right corner leaving Ortio helpless in goal.

Elias Pettersson took the Lakers into a 2-0 lead when he skillful turned in Rosén's shot - that after having been checked into the side wall and cross checked in front of goal seconds before finding the net.

At the back Viktor Andrén was a immovable rock, especially, in the second period- one of Skellefteå best in the series so far. Goal chances, but crucially no goals, although their where a number of power play opportunities as Brendan Shinnimin (VLA) and Jimmie Ericsson (SKE) , among others, went for collecting PIM instead of scoring goals.

But the third period belonged to Vaxjo and most of all, Robert Rosén who scored twice, once after only 14 seconds, and secondly at 4:34 closing off immediately any thought of a comeback for Skellefteå. That meant Rosén picked up 4 points (2+2) in just this one game. Even a missed penalty by Andrew Calof couldn't dampen the Lakers spirits as they ran out 4-0 victors by the final whistle.

Skellefteå AIK will need to find something very special if they are defy the pundits and even get close to winning a game, let alone the series, as momentum lies firmly in the 2014/5 champions side.

Game 3

The first period finished 0-0 with Skellefteå AIK probably feeling pleased with themselves creating 6 minutes of Power Play action against the home team, Växjö Lakers.

But in the second, the first goal would appear go to Lakers' Andrew Calof who shot, then slammed in the rebound that came off Skellefteå keeper, Joni Ortio. The puck had flown high in the air after the first shot, and the Canadian waited patiently for it to come below the goal's crossbar before swatting it out of the air like a dead fly and into the net. But it turned out Calof should have waited a few milliseconds more - the video referee waved the goal off, a decision that could easily have gone either way.

The miss spurred on Skellefteå and finally, after seven periods without a goal against the team from Småland, Oscar Möller beautifully deflected in the puck from a shot from the blue line.

But their first lead in the series lasted only 4 minutes as Lakers' defenseman Oliver Bohm also netted with a skillful deflection in front of goal.

It was be another Rosén-Pettersson show that give the home team the lead. As Robert Rosén took the puck clockwise around the back of the goal, that would give Elias Pettersson time to creep into the slot unmarked and tap in the timely backhand pass from the 30 year old Swede.

And despite great forward play of Skellefteå in the third period, it was Calof who would get the first goal, finally get on the scoresheet on a counterattack. Receiving the puck in the offensive zone with no one in front of him, it felt like a reprise of his penalty from the last game. This time the 26-year-old made no mistake, smashing the puck into the top right corner for 3-1.

And that's how it remained until, who else but, Elias Pettersson scored the empty net goal to make it 4-1 at the finish.

Skellefteå's best match was not enough and they go 0-3 in the series, knowing that tomorrow they could see Växjö Lakers win the Le Mat Trophy on their home ice in the Kraft Arena.

Game 4

The match started off with a first period which saw plenty of goal chances. It was home team Skellefteå AIK, in arguably their best period of the whole series, that came out 12-11 victors on shots on goal over Växjö Lakers, but no goals.

Both teams probably had their best chance in the first three minutes, first when Joakim Lindström had a one-on-one with keeper, Viktor Andrén after stealing the puck whilst the Lakers were on a line change, only to hit the puck into the keeper's glove hand. Former Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks forward, Dennis Rasmussen then hit the post for the Lakers, so that the score remained 0-0 into the first break.

Just as in the other games, just as momentum seem to indicate that Skellefteå were close to scoring, it was in fact the Lakers who would scored - this time twice through wonder kid, Elias Pettersson. Both times the talented Vancouver Canucks' drafted forward received the puck from teammates who had stolen it from their rivals as Skellefteå's forwards were on a line change to make it 2-0 to the visitors.

When Emil Djuse sat out for Tripping on Lakers' captain, Liam Reddox, it was Finn Janne Pesonen at 18:44 in the second period who smacked in the puck in from the blue line to make it 3-0 and it seemed that it was time to start putting the blue and orange ribbons on the Le Mat Trophy.

If there were any doubts as to who would win this match, Robert Rosén and Eric Martinsson made it absolutely certain to see Växjö run out 5-0 winners on the day.

With that Växjö Lakers deservedly won the Swedish national title 2017-8 for the second time in the club's history.

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