I moved from London, England to the Linköping area in Sweden with my wife and two daughters (then 3 and 5) in the summer of 2013. Before that I had only ever seen ice hockey for about 30 seconds just one time during the Winter Olympics before changing the channel to something else. The English city I grew up in does not have an ice skating rink at all.
After a morning at work and afternoon at language school, the last thing I wanted to do in the evening was hear more Swedish on the TV! But I have always loved live sports and I realised that I could turn the sound off and still enjoy the game. As the winter started to draw in the sports programmes started to show more hockey than football/ soccer so I just started watching it - with no idea of the rules or understanding of the commentary! But somehow I started to get hooked.
In the beginning of 2014 the programmes fixed their attention on the Winter Games from Sochi and the whole family got Olympic fever, soaking up the atmosphere and seeing masses of sports we never knew existed! The Swedish national TV focused on cross country skiing and ice hockey.
I don’t remember seeing a women’s international match but in the local paper after the Games, Linköping’s women’s team advertised their semifinal match with a flyer with a large number of players in their international jerseys. At that time the club had four Swedish Olympians including the captain (Jenni Asserholt), the team’s s top scorer (Pernilla Winberg) and the legendary goalkeeper (Kim Martin Hasson). They also had two Swiss Olympians in the team. I was amazed that I could see a game with that many quality players for less than 10 USD!
With two young girls in the family I also wanted to show them women’s sport at its best and inspire them following up from the family’s interest in the Winter Games.
Of course, it helped that Linköping won the match and went onto the 2013/4 final which would be played on home ice against the favourites that year, MODO Hockey. The match was even scheduled to be on television.
But the night of the final I had to work and by the time I was due to get home the match would be finished. Not happy! I went to work and I rushed home and put on the TV- the match had gone into Overtime and was still playing! And within 5 minutes, the unthinkable happened- Linköping’s Canadian import, Bailey Bram, brought in just for the playoffs, somehow found the net from the slot for her first and only goal of the knockout phase. Linköping HC, the underdogs, silenced the record crowd at MODO taking the title on the favourites’ home ice!
Understandably, I was hooked from then on!