Guest hockey writer and sometimes Loose Cannon Eishockey-Zuschauer takes a look at now former Phantom Ollie Lauridsen:
In order to close out the summer properly and in order to prepare for the upcoming season of exciting Phantoms hockey action, it has been decided that a little European vacation to check up on the progress of former Lehigh Valley defenseman Oliver Lauridsen is most appropriate.
.To review, Lauridsen inked a new contract with Swedish club HC Vastra Frolunda Gothenburg this summer after spending four full seasons as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers organization. And so, with the stroke of a pen, the towering Dane has transferred from an AHL club which has failed to make the Calder Cup playoffs the last six years on the trot to a traditionally well-supported Swedish club that has finished second in the elite league standings the past two years in a row. Furthermore, last season HC Vastra Frolunda finished as runners-up to fellow Swedish side HF Lulea in the 44-team Champions Hockey League (of Europe) tournament..Lauridsen made his official competitive debut for his new club just this past Thursday as host HC Vastra Frolunda hammered visiting English side Sheffield Steelers 9-1 in a Champions Hockey League contest at the Scandinavium arena in Gothenburg. One thing is certain and that is that Lauridsen’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms never pounded anybody by eight goals at the PPL Center in Allentown. Well then, what a massive difference a little change of scenery can actually make!.
HC Vastra Frolunda was a rather interesting club for the free agent Lauridsen to choose, then. In the city that is Sweden’s second-largest, the former St. Cloud State University defenseman is reunited with college teammate Ryan Lasch, the 28-year-old right wing who represented the United States at the 2012 IIHF World Championships and signed with HC Vastra Frolunda at the very end of this past January after starting the 2014/15 season with Finnish club TPS Turku. What’s more, in recent years, the Gothenburg club has also served as home to a trio of Denmark national team players including current NHLers Lars Eller of the Montreal Canadiens and Mikkel Boedker of the Arizona Coyotes..One aspect that should be about the same for Lauridsen in Sweden as it was last season in North America will be the number of spectators that the 26-year-old rearguard can expect to see in the stands at his home rink. Last season, Lauridsen’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms averaged 8,163 people per game at the brand new PPL Center in downtown Allentown. To directly compare, last season at the Scandinavium arena in Gothenburg, HC Vastra Frolunda averaged 9,087 fans per game, an attendance figure which led all Swedish teams at any level and ranked as ninth-best in all of Europe..The simple fact is that HC Vastra Frolunda Gothenburg have been the club with the best average attendance figure in the entire country for well more than a decade now, despite the ‘little’ matter that the Indians have not celebrated a Swedish elite league title since 2005..
.One thing is certain and that is Lauridsen will not be hearing too much, if any, propaganda about player development. HC Vastra Frolunda were originally founded more than three-quarters of a century ago in 1938 but have only ever won three Swedish elite league titles in the team’s long history. There is a noticeable amount of commitment to winning at the club these days, as can easily be evidenced by HC Vastra Frolunda’s acquisitions this off-season summer..HC Vastra Frolunda have signed no fewer than four players who have been employed by American Hockey League clubs the past few years plus a fifth player who spent the first half of last season in the AHL before going back to Europe. Factor in a young Swedish player who skated in 110 career AHL games before signing with a second division side last summer as well as a veteran domestic player who has been on the fringe of Tre Kronor (the national team’s nickname) the last three years and it must be characterized as a very good off-season haul for the Gothenburg club. Add the new recruits to an already strong HC Vastra Frolunda side and the net result is a squad which has legitimate hopes to finally get over the championship hump..The six-foot, six-inch Lauridsen has been brought in by HC Vastra Frolunda to give the team that quintessential stay-at-home defenseman who is physically imposing both along the boards and in front of the net. The transaction is significant because, earlier this summer, the Gothenburg club lost the services of reliable veteran Christian Backman, the 34-year-old Olympic gold medalist who a first round pick and skated in 302 NHL games for the St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets. With 16 NHL games on top of 264 AHL games under his belt, Lauridsen assumes the mantle as HC Vastra Frolunda’s most experienced former North American professional player – always a noteworthy position on any European club..The captain and spiritual leader of HC Vastra Frolunda is highly experienced Joel Lundqvist, the 33-year-old veteran Sweden national team center who previously skated in 134 NHL games over the course of parts of three seasons for the Dallas Stars and also just so happens to be the twin brother of the New York Rangers’ superstar goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.The leading scorer for the Gothenburg club last season, both in the Swedish elite league and the Champions Hockey League, has moved on. Mathis Olimb, the two-time Norway Olympic center who had respectable numbers in the AHL for the Rockford IceHogs (60 ga, 10 go, 32 pts, 22 pen, + 8 def rat) during the 2010/11 season before returning to HC Vastra Frolunda, has transferred to Jokerit Helsinki, the Finnish club that competes in the Russian-dominated Kontinental Hockey League. Nevertheless, the Indians are confident that two young players, both of whom are already under contract to National Hockey League clubs, will fill the void.Mattias Janmark (6’0″ 190 lbs), the 3rd round pick (# 79 overall) of the Detroit Red Wings at the 2009 NHL Draft, has appeared in two AHL games for the Grand Rapids Griffins at the tail end of the 2013/14 campaign and also participated in one Calder Cup playoff game for the Texas Stars last spring. The 22-year-old center was the second-leading scorer (55 ga, 13 go, 36 pts) for HC Vastra Frolunda last season and, thus far, has skated in 18 games with the senior national team of Sweden in his career. Janmark is spending this season in Gothenburg out on loan from the Dallas Stars and could very well surface in the AHL for a third consecutive year this coming spring.Andreas Johnson, the 7th round pick (# 202 overall) of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2013 NHL Draft, was teammates with Lehigh Valley Phantoms defensemen Robert Hagg and Jesper Pettersson on the Sweden squad which earned a silver medal at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships. The 20-year-old left wing finished last season as HC Vastra Frolunda’s top goal-scorer in both the Swedish elite league (55 ga, 22 go, 35 pts) and the Champions Hockey League (12 ga, 11 go, 25 pts). Johnson returns for a third full season with the Indians out on loan from Toronto Maple Leafs and could have an AHL tryout with the Marlies this spring.HC Vastra Frolunda also have two other young players who are high end draft choices of NHL clubs and could find themselves skating in the American Hockey League rather soon. 18-year-old defenseman Jacob Larsson was the 1st round pick (# 27 overall) of the Anaheim Ducks at the 2015 NHL Draft this summer and Artturi Lehkonen, the 20-year-old winger who has represented Finland at the annual IIHF World Junior Championships the last three seasons in a row, was the 2nd round pick (# 55 overall) of the Montreal Canadiens at the 2013 NHL Draft.Meanwhile, back to HC Vastra Frolunda’s 9-1 drubbing of Sheffield Steelers and Oliver Lauridsen’s successful Champions Hockey League debut …video highlights :https://www.championshockeyleague.net/video/highlights-frolunda-gothenburg-vs-sheffield-steelers/1517/HC Vastra Frolunda absolutely dominated their English guests in terms of shots on goal (56 to 14) and it certainly showed on the scoreboard. The Swedish defenseman who tallied three goals and added one assist versus Sheffield Steelers was Henrik Tommernes, the 24-year-old who skated in 23 AHL games (3 go, 11 pts, 8 pen, – 3 def rat) for the Utica Comets before leaving to join Finnish club Tappara Tampere in the middle of last January. Also scoring against Sheffield was newly-arrived center Johan Sundstrom, the 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons skating in the AHL for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (171 ga, 26 go, 69 pts, 152 pen, – 3 def rat). As for the aforementioned youngsters, the Finn Lehkonen had a goal and an assist while Johnson had three assists and Janmark had two assists..Canadian import Spencer Abbott, the 27-year-old winger from the University of Maine who skated in a combined 65 AHL games (19 go, 45 pts, 16 pen, – 1 def rat) for the Toronto Marlies and Rockford IceHogs last season, had two primary assists for HC Vastra Frolunda..Lauridsen, who suited up in 75 AHL games (4 go, 10 pts, 152 pen, + 6 def rat) for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last season, appears prominently right around the 3:00 mark of the video and paves the way for the Sheffield Steelers’ only goal by tripping an opponent from behind to concede a penalty shot..Colton Fretter, the 33-year-old veteran right wing out of Michigan State University who has been able to score goals on his travels the last seven years no matter where he has gone, took his chance quite well for the visitors, it must be said..The interesting goal-scoring record of Fretter in recent seasons :24 goals in 80 games … 2008/09 … Portland Pirates (AHL)26 goals in 79 games … 2009/10 … Springfield Falcons (AHL)23 goals in 35 games … 2010/11 … HC Bolzano (Italy)20 goals in 52 games … 2011/12 … Iserlohn Roosters (Germany)23 goals in 35 games … 2012/13 … EHC Olten (Switzerland.2)16 goals in 46 games … 2013/14 … AC Klagenfurt (Austria)27 goals in 61 games … 2014/15 … Sheffield Steelers (England).The Sheffield Steelers goaltender who got shelled was none other than Tyler Plante, the native of Milwaukee who was the 2nd round pick (# 32 overall) of the Florida Panthers at the 2005 NHL Draft but never moved past the AHL level … the 28-year-old netminder appeared in 106 AHL games (3.13 avg, .903 avg) in parts of four seasons with the Rochester Americans but has been all over the place since including stops in the Swedish second division, Italy, Norway and, now, England..Is this the fate — facing the firing squad with Sheffield Steelers — that ultimately awaits Anthony Stolarz, the 2nd round pick (# 45 overall) of the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2012 NHL Draft, if the New Jersey native doesn’t get his act together in his second season for the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms?
Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level