The 2017-2018 SDHL season kicked off with a bang this week. Each team made their season debut with at least two games each, with newcomers Göteborg HC getting a taste of the tough competition they’ll face throughout their first season in the league.
MODO Hockey, Brynäs IF, and Leksands IF all won two games. HV71 won one. AIK IF, SDE HF, and Göteborg HC have yet to register a win. Linköping HC defeated reigning league champions Djurgårdens IF in overtime on Sunday to take the extra standings point.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop
Talk about using a schedule’s lemons to make lemonade. Luleå HF took their inexplicable four games in four days season openers and came out swinging with four consecutive victories and twelve points to put themselves neatly on top of the SDHL standings.
Luleå coach Fredrik Glader praised his team’s composure and effort: “It has been a new experience for the team and we [handled] it really great,” he told The Ice Garden. “Every player is the reason for this team’s wins.”
Goaltenders Anna Amholt and Maria Omberg split the games in net with two each. Amholt, 17, put together a pair of solid efforts against Linköping and Göteborg, earning her first shutout on Sunday.
Superstar winger and Team Finland powerhouse Michelle Karvinen currently sits first in league scoring with nine points (five goals, four assists) in Luleå’s four games. Tied with her in points? Luleå’s new captain, defender Jenni Hiirikoski. Taking the captain’s mantle in the wake of Emma Eliasson’s retirement would be a tall order for anyone, but Hiirikoski’s leadership experience as Team Finland captain and her elite defensive prowess are more than up to the task. Both Karvinen and Hiirikoski scored hat tricks in Luleå’s 9-0 rout of SDHL newcomers Göteborg HC on Sunday.
Elsewhere in the league, MODO Hockey’s offensive came alive, something they sorely missed last season. Acquiring outside help, including former Toronto Furies forward Michaela Cava, paid off in week one.
Cava seems to have adjusted to her new surroundings well. In three games with MODO she’s established herself as a scoring threat with seven points (5G, 2A) and one hat trick. Those five goals put her one just behind her 2016-17 total with Toronto, where she had six goals and eight assists in her rookie season.
Meanwhile, another former CWHL rookie is also seeing early season results with MODO. Former Brampton Thunder forward Kaitlyn Tougas notched one goal and three assists in the team’s three games. Tougas’s single-point season in Brampton left a lot to be desired after a successful NCAA career at Bemidji State; a renewed fire for both scoring and playmaking would be more than welcome for MODO.
Longtime team captain Erika Grahm has goals in all three of MODO’s games, along with two assists for a total of five points. She’s currently taking a sabbatical from her job in MODO’s ticket sales department to focus full-time on hockey.
Week One Standings: