Swedish ‘99ers continue to move to the NCAA

Three more Swedes born in 1999 are set to move from the SDHL to the NCAA and continue to develop their hockey career in the USA in the autumn of 2019.

Paula Bergström, Alba Johnsson and Matilda af Bjur will join Ida Press and Celine Tedenby to become the dominant year group making up half of the 10 Swedish players in the NCAA for the 2019/20 season.

All five were part of the national team that came fourth in the U18 Women's World Championships in 2017. But Press and Tedenby decided to move last year to join Ebba Strandberg (born 1998) at the University of Maine.

Tedenby is having a breakout year, as one of the team's highest scorers as well as being one of the best placed Europeans in Total Points in a league that contains over 800 North Americans.

Paula Bergström, MODO Hockey

Like Tedenby, Paula Bergström is a native of Örnsköldsvik, the hockey obsessed town that often goes by the shorted name of Ö-vik! Both have had played all their career until now at the local club, MODO Hockey where Bergström has played defense in the senior women's team since the age of 15.

Wearing an assistant captain's badge for the first time this year, Bergström has also clocked up her career highest amount of penalty minutes, mainly due to receiving a 5 + Game for Boarding back in October.

Not a scoring back, she has nevertheless collected more points this season than the three previous seasons put together. This is a potential growth area for the young Swede as during that World U18 campaign in 2017 she was the team's top scoring defender.

Whilst she might not be the person to deliver that goal scoring pass, her contribution to the team can be seen in Plus/Minus where last year in the SDHL she recorded a career high total of +28.

She will be joining Long Island University.

Alva Johnsson, Leksand IF

Joining Bergström at Long Island will be Alva Johnsson.

Born just outside Stockholm, she played at senior level for two Stockholm clubs, AIK and SDE before moving to Leksand IF two seasons ago, then aged 18.

Although a forward, her primary skills are in the defensive and physical areas of play. That can be seen in her first season at Leksand where she gained the record for the most blocked shots or this season when she has collected a career high amount of Penalty Minutes.

Matilda af Bjur, Brynäs IF

In her first season at senior level, when only 15, she was part of the AIK team that took second place in the SDHL and she played her first U18 World Championship for Sweden.

Then she had four seasons at Linköping HC where the team twice took second place and the 5'5" (165cm) forward continued to play for the national team at U18 level every year she was eligible.

Unlike Bergström and Johnsson, but alongside Press and Tedenby, she was part of the U18 team that took bronze in 2016. And in 2017, when all five played together, af Bjur was one of the assistant captain's in her final year in the competition.

For this 2018/9 season the defense-minded player decided to move to Brynäs IF to get more ice time instead of playing a bit part in the Östergötland's team talented squad. One of her great skills is staying out of the box. In the SDHL she serves, on average, only one minor penalty for every five games played.

Af Bjur will be playing for the prestigious Ivy League college, Yale University, in Connecticut for 2019/20 season.

Selma Aho, HV71

Selma Aho comes from a large hockey playing family, most famous of all, older brother Sebastian Aho, drafted by the New York Islanders and currently playing with their AHL team, Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

But Selma will not be joining her fellow '99ers because of a severe concussion in a match in 3 December 2017 (yes, two-thousand-and-seventeen) when she fell head first into the boards.

She has not played since and her everyday life is still heavily affected. It is questionable whether she will return to hockey at all, leaving younger sister, Selina Aho, who has also represented Sweden at U18 level, as the only Aho on the defensive line for HV71.