Both Brynäs and HV71 won two games over the weekend, but the wins definitely meant more to HV71. Both victories were team efforts that came down to a single goal. HV71 is now riding a seven-game winning streak that has included victories over the top two teams in the standings.
Defender Sidney Morin was the hero of the weekend thanks to her seventh goal of the season, scored in overtime, against AIK on Sunday. Morin now has 28 points in 17 games on the season to lead all blueliners in scoring. The only person even in the same neighborhood is Jenni Hiirikoski, who has 21 points in 15 games.
The other big performer — other than goaltenders Alba Gonzalo and Lina van Noort — for HV71 this weekend was Michelle Löwenhielm. The Swedish center had two assists on Saturday against SDE, including the primary assist on the game-winner, and a goal in Sunday’s 3-2 OT win. Löwenhielm is now eighth in the league in scoring with eight goals and 15 assists. She’s on pace to crush her total from last season, a career-best of 30 points in 36 games.
As a result of these two victories HV71 was able to put some important distance between themselves and fourth-place Linköping in the standings. The club now has 10 wins in regulation and two wins in overtime through the first 17 games of the 2020-21 campaign. They still have a lot of work to do to return to the form that they showed last year, but HV71 is playing like they deserve to be part of the conversation as the top team in the league with Brynäs and Luleå.
Now all eyes are on Saturday’s game between Luleå and HV71. Luleå will also be in action on Tuesday against MODO before MODO meets HV71 on Sunday. Another two-win weekend would mean HV71 taking a big bite out of Luleå’s lead over them in the standings.
Here are three performances worthy of hardware from the last week of SDHL action.
- Viivi Vainikka had a big game last Wednesday for Luleå against MODO in her team’s 6-1 victory. Vainikka had two goals and a primary assist — all at even strength — in the second period. She added a second primary assist in the third period to cap off a four primary point performance and bring her up to 15 points through 14 games this year.
- Brynäs’ Kateřina Mrázová had back-to-back three-point games over the weekend, scoring two goals and notching an assist in both games. We put a spotlight on Mrázová a lot at The Ice Garden because, to be blunt, she deserves it. Her playmaking ability is as good as it gets and she keeps finding ways to beat goalies and put the puck into the net. She now has more goals (17) and points (38) than teammate Lara Stalder ands leads the SDHL in goal-scoring.
- Goaltender Stephanie Neatby earned every bit of a .961 save percentage over the weekend. Neatby shut out Leksand with a 26-save performance on Saturday and stopped 49 shots in a 4-2 loss against Brynäs on Sunday. She leads all goaltenders with four clean sheets and is second in the league in GAA (1.62).