Former Phantoms Around the World: Sweden

International hockey correspondent der Eishockeyzuschauer takes a look at former Phantoms and AHL players internationally:

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At the very end of August, we reported on the progress of former Lehigh Valley Phantoms fan favorite / defenseman Oliver Lauridsen in his debut match for new Swedish club HC Frolunda Gothenburg, a Champions Hockey League contest against visiting English side Sheffield Steelers.
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The new elite league season had not quite begun when we last looked in on the Denmark national team blueliner Lauridsen, but now HC Frolunda Gothenburg find themselves on top of the Swedish Hockey League table roughly one-third of the way through their normal 55-game domestic schedule and have also advanced to the quarterfinal stage of the European Champions Hockey League tournament, as well.

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It certainly seems as if HC Frolunda Gothenburg’s concentrated effort this summer to recruit players who skated last season in the American Hockey League — Lauridsen, gk Johan Gustafsson (Iowa Wild), Spencer Abbott (Toronto Marlies/Rockford IceHogs), Johan Sundstrom (Bridgeport Sound Tigers) — has paid immediate dividends this fall; Sundstrom is second on the club having scored eight goals in the domestic league while Abbott is third on the team having totaled ten goals in all of HC Frolunda’s competitive games this fall.
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On October 9th, HC Frolunda Gothenburg added yet another player who skated in the AHL last season when the club signed defenseman Tom Nilsson, the 4th round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2011 NHL Draft who spent all of last season in North America with the Toronto Marlies (44 ga, 1 go, 6 pts, 26 pen, + 4 def). The 22-year-old, who was teammates with current Lehigh Valley Phantoms defenseman Robert Hagg on the Sweden side that claimed the silver medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships and has already appeared in 22 games for the senior national team, had been traded to the New York Islanders organization this fall but requested and was granted his unconditional release shortly after being assigned to the minor leagues at the end of training camp. Nilsson, who skated for HC Frolunda during the 2013/14 campaign before trying his luck on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, has appeared in ten consecutive Swedish Hockey League games since returning to the Gothenburg team.
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After appearing in HC Frolunda Gothenburg’s lopsided 9-1 win over English side Sheffield Steelers in the Champions Hockey League opener, Lauridsen was injured and missed the next seven games, including the first four contests of the new Swedish elite league season. Since that time, the Great Dane (13 ga, 0 go, 2 as, 16 pen, + 1 def) has skated in all but one of HC Frolunda’s last fourteen domestic games but has been essentially functioning as the team’s seventh defenseman since the arrival of Nilsson. The former NHLer Lauridsen has averaged just over thirteen minutes of ice time per game, a figure which is actually eighth among all of HC Frolunda’s rearguards.
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(One must remember that Swedish clubs are allowed to dress twenty skaters for any given domestic league game as compared to the eighteen that are permitted in North America; most of the time, teams dress a seventh defenseman and a thirteen forward.)
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HC Frolunda Gothenburg have 11 former AHL players at present including the Canadian legionnaire Abbott as well as American import Ryan Lasch, the 28-year-old right wing who was teammates with Lauridsen at St. Cloud State University and is tied currently tied for fourth place in scoring on the Swedish Hockey League chart with 21 points (seven goals) from eighteen games; the undersized Lasch (5’8″ 180 lbs), who skated a combined 30 AHL games (6 go, 10 pts, 6 pen, + 5 def) for both the Norfolk Admirals and the Toronto Marlies during the 2012/13 season, is also tied for the scoring leadership in the Champions Hockey League tournament with 11 points (five goals) from eight games.
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Andreas Johnson, the 20-year-old right wing who was teammates with Hagg on the Sweden squad which earned the bronze medal at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships, is one player whom American Hockey League fans could very well be seeing in a North American rink come this spring — Johnson (18 ga, 7 go, 15 pts in SHL; 8 ga, 2 go, 9 pts in CHL) is already under contract to the Toronto Maple Leafs and is skating this season on loan to HC Frolunda Gothenburg from the NHL organization.
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Artturi Lehkonen, the 20-year-old left wing who represented Finland at the annual IIHF World Junior Championships three times in his career, was the 2nd round pick of the Montreal Canadiens at the 2013 NHL Draft and could very well be skating in the AHL for the St. John’s Ice Caps in the not so distant future.
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On the subject of former Lehigh Valley Phantoms now playing in the Swedish Hockey League … Andrew Gordon, the 29-year-old right wing out of St. Cloud State University who had 18 goals and 42 points in 76 AHL games for the Philadelphia Flyers’ top farm club last season, is the leading scorer (18 ga, 6 go, 15 pts) for new club HC Linkoping at the moment.


Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Phantoms Hockey

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