I begin writing this post five hours into a 14-hour bus trip up to Luleå, Sweden after arriving in the country only five days ago (and receiving the call just five days before that). I couldn’t be more excited to write that sentence and officially announce that I have joined Linköping in the SDHL for the remainder of the season. At the top of the post, I wanted to briefly thank my agent at Hecate Sports Group and the Linköping General Manager for their incredibly supportive efforts to get me settled in Sweden in under a week. Thank you!
The first thing I noticed right away was the welcoming atmosphere and interactions I experienced from not only my new team, but all the Linköping club staff I met along the way. It was around 3 PM when I was finally settled after my flights, and I knew I needed to stay awake for several more hours. Right then, I was added to the team chat, and it just so happened a group was planning to see Wonka later and asked if I wanted to join – absolutely! Then a day or so later I was invited to try Padel for the first time (which is a combination of tennis and maybe racquetball?). Then, of course, we had the four day weekend coming up so it was a busy first week for me!
The team played Frölunda HC the day after I arrived, which was a huge game since they were right next to each other in the standings. I was able to attend the pre-game video meeting before I had to depart from the team so they could get ready for the game. Unfortunately, Frölunda walked away with the win, but I loved being able to see the game in person. Hockey never looks as fast as it really is while watching through a screen, and the poise and patience so many players on both teams had at that speed was incredible to watch.
The following days I was finally able to step on the ice and get back to work! The most difficult adjustment was switching to a new stick since they use CCM. Although I’m not super picky when it comes to equipment, the stick I was testing was about 3 models old so, coming from a Bauer Hyperlite, it felt like I was swinging around a sledgehammer. However, once I selected the new preferences, they were able to send over the new models for me to use which were much lighter (thank goodness the CCM rep let me keep my Bauer skates for the rest of the season though, phew!). Quick shoutout as well to the equipment manager for pulling together my equipment and apparel so fast, those sticks arrived by the next morning!
The team practices this week were a perfect introduction for me. We had open ice my second day and then a low-intensity skills practice Tuesday morning. At the team practices, there were some good higher-speed drills mixed with some simpler flow drills, so I got a lot of puck touches and got a feel for the speed of the team. Both practices ended with power play work, so I was able to catch my breath and try some of their penalty kill. There were certainly times I was off my step, but everyone was super encouraging and gave me lots of guidance on their systems.
Although I won’t be able to play this weekend as I wait for my visa, I am so excited to be able to join the trip and have a chance to meet all the players and watch more games.
Thank you for reading and I’m so excited for you to join me on this new adventure in Sweden!