After friendly matches against the NWHL and Team Korea last season the Minnesota Whitecaps are set to collaborate again in August, this time with the SDHL in Stockholm, Sweden.
The team’s week-long trip features exhibition games against all three Stockholm-based teams, starting with Djurgårdens IF on August 21, AIK on August 22, a rematch with Djurgårdens IF on August 24, and concluding with SDE on August 26. All four matches will be played at Hovet Arena in the Johanneshov district. Djurgårdens IF operations manager Danijela Rundqvist explained to The Ice Garden,
“Hovet is the oldest ice rink in Sweden and it is Djurgårdens home rink. It seats almost 9000.”
The Whitecaps are bringing a 17-player roster to Sweden. Trip organizer Marley McMillan explained, “the team is primarily made up of Whitecaps, but it will also feature players not on the regular season roster,” and includes three full lines and two goalkeepers. The team departs for Stockholm on August 20.
“We're excited to experience a different style of play and see how we stack up against international competition,” McMillan told The Ice Garden.
How did this collaboration come to be? Minneapolis native Delaney Middlebrook played on last year’s Djurgårdens IF championship team; she was coached by several Whitecaps for many years. Her father Chris regularly takes bandy teams to Europe and offered to use his Swedish connections to help set the plan in motion.
For the Whitecaps, the trip is about more than hockey: it’s also about broadening horizons. The team has long been home to international hockey talent with Olympians from Finland, Russia, and the United States among their alumni, and the experience will further expand their frame of cultural reference, as McMillan explained:
“We are very much looking forward to learning about and gaining a cultural understanding of Sweden. Bringing home some [wins] wouldn't hurt, but we are very much hoping for a fun, fascinating, and rewarding trip.”
Rundqvist echoed McMillan’s sentiments, saying, “We expect good games to prepare for the season in SDHL. It will also be a fun experience for the players, in both teams.”