Photo: Cheryl Pursell
For a variety of reasons, we all have our favorite players. Perhaps we like the way they play the game. Perhaps we’ve made some kind of personal connection with them. Or maybe we’ve just had good interactions on Social Media. Regardless of the reason, it’s tough to see them go–and even tougher when it’s not for promotion reasons.
As you know, one of my favorite Phantoms–this year and last–is Jesper Pettersson. And, there are a few reasons. He’s my size. He’s met both of my kids. He plays a tough game. And, I have his jersey. His #8 is the same number Junior wore through most of his baseball career. I know he has trouble getting on the ice, but I like it when he’s out there–even if he has to fill in on a wing when forwards are injured.
Pettersson signing the jersey of a young fan at last years STH Carnival. Photo: Kram
Late yesterday, Tony Androckitis of Highland Park Hockey reported that Jesper had been sent to the Reading Royals on loan from the Flyers. This morning he appears on the Reading roster in his usual #8–taking forward Geoff Walker’s number.
Going back to last season, der Eishockeyzuschauer shared with me that he thought Petey might go back to his native Sweden if things weren’t working out with the Phantoms–rather than go to Reading. Last night he sent the following analysis (It’s his work, but I’m not block-quoting this time for formatting reasons):
And so we learn from our pal Androck and the American Hockey League’s official website that second-year Swedish defenseman Jesper Pettersson and blue collar Canadian enforcer Derek Mathers have been assigned to the Reading Royals of the East Coast Hockey League.
Pettersson’s place always appeared to be threatened ever since the Philadelphia Flyers organization signed Swiss defenseman Christian Marti to a free agent contract last spring. The 22-year-old Marti, who stands six feet, three inches tall, weighs 210 pounds, and likes to dish out punishing hits, is simply much better equipped to handle the physical demands of North American pro hockey. The diminutive Swede (5’9″ 192 lbs), who, ironically enough, earned a reputation as a rugged individual coming up in Europe, quite simply has a hard time effectively competing against the American Hockey League’s bigger players along the boards and in front of the net specifically because of his size or lack thereof.
Not to say that Pettersson is a bad player because that just isn’t the case at all. Petey is a fine skater, can pass the puck well enough and is a competent defensive player in terms of blocking shots, marking his man, etc., as well. As one might expect from a player with a silver medal from the annual IIHF World Junior Championships on his resume, it is reasonable to assume that the 7th round pick (# 198 overall) of the Philadelphia Flyers would not have too hard of a time finding a club in the Swedish top flight; as a 19-year-old two seasons ago, Pettesson skated in 48 senior elite league games for HC Linkoping.
One must remember the larger ice surfaces that have always been a hallmark of European ice hockey. Furthermore, over the years there have seemingly always been “undersized” yet mobile and skillful Swedish defenseman performing rather well, both for the national team and in the vaunted National Hockey League. In other words, a defenseman of Pettersson’s stature is not so uncommon at all as far as Swedish ice hockey is concerned.
Which brings up the question of whether or not Pettersson will actually accept his first-ever assignment to the ECHL and promptly report to Reading. Over the years it has been proven time and again that European players are typically not inclined to skate in the third tier of North American pro hockey. It is worth remembering that Marcel Noebels bolted the Philadelphia Flyers organization and returned home to sign with Deutsche Eishockey Liga club Eisbaeren Berlin when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms tried to assign the German national team winger to the Royals at the end of training camp last season … (Noebels had a goal today for Eisbaeren in their Champions Hockey League match against Swedish club AIK Skelleftea yesterday, just for the record).
Kram, and a band of orange-wearing crazies, will be heading to Reading on Friday, November 20th. We’ll see if Petey is on the ice for the Royals that night–and if Kram has his jersey on. Look on the main blog page for a link to cheap tickets.
My guy Pettersson. Photo: Cheryl Pursell
Pettersson’s old team back in Sweden could very well be in the market for an extra defenseman these days. Although HC Linkoping are currently occupying third place in the fourteen-team elite league standings, the Swedish league season is not yet even one-third complete and the historically modest club can probably not have enough depth on the blue line, especially come playoff time. The leading scorer for HC Linkoping so far this season is none other than former Lehigh Valley Phantoms winger Andrew Gordon (15 ga, 6 go, 9 as, 15 pts); the Canadian legionnaire ranks thirteenth on the Swedish elite league scoring chart at present.
If HC Linkoping could not use any assistance on defense at the moment, surely another Swedish team with a lower rank in the elite league table might consider the distinct possibility of adding Pettersson.
Pettersson running the dunk tank at last seasons carnival
Pettersson enhanced his European reputation as a tough customer against Russia in the semifinal of the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships. In the closing stages of the tight contest that Tre Kronor won 2-1, a scrum developed along the boards after Russia defenseman Andrei Mironov deliberately checked Sweden center Oskar Sundqvist (now with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins) from behind. The Philadelphia Flyers prospect, who had been in the penalty box serving a slashing penalty, immediately charged back onto the ice at the conclusion of the game and jumped Mironov from behind.
Pettersson later told reporters, “I see one of my teammates get hit from behind, I just skate there and stand up for my guy.”
2014 IIHF WJC semifinal — Sweden vs Russia
Bunch of familiar names on Sweden’s junior national team which ultimately had to settle for the silver medal after ultimately losing the 2014 WJC final 3-2 in overtime to Scandinavian arch-rival Finland … Aside from Sundqvist, who scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the semifinal victory over the Russians, the Swedish team featured six other players who are currently skating in the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference this season :
def – Robert Hagg ……….. Lehigh Valley Phantoms
def – Jesper Pettersson … Lehigh Valley Phantoms
def – Christian Djoos ……. Hershey Bears
def – Linus Arnesson ……. Providence Bruins
for – Jacob De La Rose …. St. John’s IceCaps
for – Oskar Sundqvist …… Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins
for – Sebastian Collberg … Bridgeport Sound Tigers
—> We wish Petey well, and hope to see him back at the PPL Center sooner rather than later. If not, perhaps we’ll see him on the 20th, and we wish him the best regardless of where he’s playing.
See you at the arena,
Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Phantoms Hockey