Sweden Hockey Trophy marks the return of youth hockey in Scandinavia

The Sweden Hockey Trophy (SHT) returns to Scandinavia this month, after the region spent much of the 2020-21 season without youth hockey. Concerns around COVID-19 put the Sweden youth hockey season on pause last December, and strict government guidelines prohibited game action in the local ice rinks.

Only recently have restrictions begun to lift, permitting youth hockey players to return to the ice. The Swedish Ice Hockey Association’s 2021-22 season typically starts in September, and the Sweden Hockey Trophy tournament symbolizes a new chapter for many. 

The month-long event features five different age groups competing over four separate weekends. The 2007s took to the ice first at Ishuset Arena, home of IFK Tumba. This Thursday, the 2008s will follow up the action with 16 teams at JM-Hallen in Bromma. Fourteen teams at the ‘09-age group will square off next weekend, and the ‘10s and ‘11s will close out the tournament September 23 – 26th.

Last weekend, Täby HC was crowned champions of the ‘07 AAA division, while Wings HC took the AA division. A 4-1 record in pool play put Täby into the top seed of the six-team playoffs, earning a first-round bye and a spot in the Final Four. There, they faced off against HC Hvezda Prague, as Isac Nilsson, Melvin Novotny and Romeo Edvarsen Sӧrensen combined to score six goals in Täby’s 9-2 semifinal victory.

Täby HC captain Filip Puhakka accepts the Sweden Hockey Trophy from tournament director Alexander Holtz.

The championship pitted the No. 1 team in Pool A against the No. 1 team in Pool B, as Nacka stepped up to challenge Täby for the title. The matchup featured the top three scorers in the tournament with Novotny (23), Ruben Westerling (15) and Matiss Zilitis (14). Midway through the second half of the game, Zilitis scored to tie it up for Nacka at 2-2. In the final moments of the contest though, Marcus Nordmark would score the game-winning goal with 1:50 left in regulation to give Täby the 3-2 win and the SHT championship.

Sweden Hockey Trophy features some of the best youth hockey teams in the country. In total, 83 of the top Swedish youth hockey teams will compete for the SHT championship this month. Also worth noting are the nine international teams expected to be in attendance. Previously mentioned HC Hvezda Prague is a top program from the Czech Republic, and was the only non-Sweden based team in the ‘07 Division. Ukraine’s Sokol Kiev will compete in the ‘09 Division next weekend. The ‘08 Division — set to begin on Thursday — is the most diverse field of the tournament with 16 teams from seven different countries. In addition to the nine Sweden programs, Bartulus Hockey Club (Latvia), Barys (Kazakhstan), HC Hvezda Prague (Czech Republic), RUSS Moscow (Russia), two teams from Tappara (Finland) and Seacoast Spartans (United States). 

Participating in international tournaments like SHT is becoming a bit more commonplace than before in youth hockey. Programs like the Czech Knights and Slovakia Stars had traveled abroad for historic events like Pee-Wee Quebec, and CSKA Moscow has made similar trips to the U.S. for iconic tournaments like the Motown Classic. North American winter teams have rarely returned the favor to travel across the Atlantic. However, with programs like Seacoast paving the way to compete at SHT, it could become a more common practice amongst top teams in the States. 

Programs can spend thousands of dollars per person to partake in some of the cross-country road trips to elite showcases and popular tournaments. The cost for an East Coast team to shoot across the Atlantic can at the very least be comparable, if not cheaper than domestic travel to destinations like Nashville, Florida, Denver or the West Coast. Flights and hotels and food for a 17-man team, coaches and family members can add up quickly, only to spend the weekend in another run-of-the-mill hockey town. That same typical trip could be turned into an international experience filled with culture and competition against top European programs in exotic European cities. 

The SHT continues on Thursday and throughout the rest of the month. World Hockey Hub will have exclusive coverage of the tournament on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to like and follow for more updates.

Interested in challenging your team against international competition? The team at World Hockey Group can help set you up with a destination, comparable opponents and an experience of a lifetime. Connect with a team member HERE.