Teams Lobby For The Final Six Spots In The Sweden National Tournament

The Sweden Ice Hockey Federation finalized its field of 16 teams for the under-16 national tournament yesterday. Ten spots had already been locked up prior to the weekend, but six others were still up for grabs. Here’s where teams stand in all four regions:

NORTH REGION

Prior to the weekend, all four automatic bids from the region had already been spoken for. Luleå HF, Skellefteå AIK, Svedjeholmens IF and IF Sundsvall had already punched their tickets to nationals; this quartet simply sat idle over the weekend and waited for the remainder of the field to finalize.

EAST REGION

Djurgårdens HF and Flemingsbergs IK had previously secured two of the four spots in the East. The remaining field of Almtuna, Nacka, SDE, Sollentuna, Södertälje and Täby clashed over the last three days, vying for the final two spots in the region.

Six teams competed in 15 games over the weekend, and the last spot came down to the final game. 

SDE went 4-1-0 on the weekend, with the only loss coming to Täby in overtime. In the four victories, Carl Axelsson turned away 85-of-86 shots and posted three shutouts backstop SDE to an impressive weekend. With 13 points in the standings, they had cemented themselves among the top two teams in the field and guaranteed a bid to nationals. Melvin Fernström led all forwards in scoring with seven points, and Felix Öhrqvist led all defensemen in scoring as well with six points. 

The other spot up for grabs wouldn’t be decided until the final game of the final day, in overtime nonetheless. 

Nacka entered Sunday’s game with nine points (3-1-0) in the standings, while Täby came in with 10 points (3-1-0, with an overtime loss). Winner moves on, loser goes home. Through 40 minutes of regulation time, neither Nacka’s Nils Roberts Maurins or Täby’s Pontus Yttergård had allowed a goal, combining to stop all 37 shots in the game. However, a slashing penalty on Neo Hirsch with just four seconds left in regulation gave Täby the chance it needed heading into the extra frame. 

Just 22 seconds into overtime, Oliver Marcelius cashed in on the man advantage for his third goal of the weekend, securing Täby’s spot in the national tournament.

SOUTH REGION

The region with the most vacant spots remaining, three automatic bids were still available heading into the weekend. Frölunda HC was the only program confirmed, while Hanhals IF, Malmö, Linköping, Växjö, HV 71 and Rögle BK looked to squeeze their way into the playoff picture.

The format consisted of three best-of-three series, with the winner of each series earning one of the three spots available. IF Malmö Redhawks and Hanhals IF in one matchup, Linköping HC and Växjö Lakers in another, and Rögle BK and HV 71 in the final one.

With a 6-1 win on Thursday and a 14-4 win on Saturday, Malmö made quick work of Hanhals. Jakob Stjärna, Viggo Söderberg, Louis Jonerheim and Wille Magnertoft each recorded seven points in the series to help Malmö advance to the national tournament. 

Linköping and Växjö skated to a bit more competitive of a series, but the result would again be a clean sweep. First-period goals by Albin Laksonen in both games one and two put Linköping out in front, and kept them there as the team never trailed at any point in the series. Game 1 resulted in a 4-2 decision and Game 2 was a 4-1 final, giving Linköping a spot in next week’s national tournament.

An 8-1 win in Game 1 made it look like HV 71 was going to cruise into nationals over Rögle. Heading into the third period of Game 2 with the score tied at 2-2, Love Gath and Oscar Johansson were doing everything they could to stave off elimination for Rögle.Two quick goals by HV 71’s Viktor Olofsson and Lucas Andersson would propel their team to victory in the game and the series, though, as they made it the third sweep of the weekend.

WEST REGION

Only one spot remained in the West, as four teams looked to join Örebro HK, Brynäs IF and Färjestad BK amongst teams representing the region at nationals. Hammarӧ, Mora IK, Valbo and Örebro HU tangled in a six-game round robin to determine the final representative. 

In hindsight, the lone spot up for grabs in the West may have been determined in the first game of the first day.

Mora IK and Valbo HC tangled in a 4 p.m. tilt on Friday. A trio of third-period goals by Lukas Turesson-Backman, Hugo Jackson and Vidar Källberg fueled Mora to a 3-2 victory, with Källberg’s tally coming with just 36 seconds left in regulation.

The win propelled Mora to two more dominant wins in the form of 6-1 and 10-1. Had the story been different, and Valbo came away victorious, they could have re-written history to claim that automatic bid instead.

So, the field of 16 teams is set, and the U16 national tournament will begin on Friday, March 11. The 16 teams and their respective groups for nationals are:

GROUP A
Brynäs IF
Färjestad BK
IF Sundsvall
Skellefteå AIK
GROUP B
Luleå HF
Mora IK
Örebro HK
Svedjeholmens
GROUP C
Flemingsbergs IK
Frölunda HC
HV 71
IFK Täby HC
GROUP D
Djurgårdens HF
Malmö Redhawks
SDE Hockey
Växjö Lakers

For continued coverage of the Sweden U16 national tournament, follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest news and updates!

More From The World Hockey Hub