Love Härenstam helps team win TV-Pucken as top District in Sweden
We warned readers last week of one player that had the potential to steal the 2022 TV-Pucken tournament. That warning became a reality when Love Härenstam posted back-to-back shutouts in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, and stopped 28-of-29 shots in the championship. Norrbotten won the U16 Sweden national tournament, as the top district in the country. It is the first time since 1985 that the Norrbotten District has won the championship. It’s also just the third time in the tournament’s 64-year history that the northernmost county of the country has taken the title of tops in Sweden.
In the first round of action on Friday, Norrbotten drew Småland. The ice was significantly tilted, considering that Småland outshot Norrbotten 28-15. Additionally, minor penalties by Liam Andersson, Linus Funck and Elias Brännmark put Norrbotten shorthanded for stretches of the contest as well.
Thankfully, Härenstam was there to hold down the net. He made 13 saves in the first half, and followed that up with 15 in the second half. While Härenstam shut out opposing shooters, 6-foot-2 forward Jakob Ihs-Wozniak went to work. First, he assisted on the opening goal of the game by Elias Selström. That gave Norrbotten a 1-0 lead at intermission. Then, in the second half, Ihs-Wozniak scored two goals of his own to secure the shutout victory. That was the first — and really, the only — upset of the first round of TV-Pucken action.
Norrbotten Upsets The Heavy Favorite
Their reward for pulling off the first-round upset? A date with the odds-on tournament favorite, Stockholm North.
Stockholm North had won the previous three TV-Pucken championships, and had won five of the last 10 tournaments. The 2022 squad was loaded with top 2007-born talent from Sweden’s most densely populated region.
Top forwards Melvin Novotny, Eric Nilson, Torkel Jennersjö and Mattias Nyberg combined to score 21 goals in round-robin play. As a team, Stockholm North scored 30 goals in five games. When they met Norrbotten in the semifinals, though, all that faded away.
Again, opponents threw everything at Härenstam. And again, he was there to answer the challenge.
Selström opened the scoring again, off of a pass from William Morin almost 10 minutes into the first half. Once Norrbotten got the lead, Härenstam made sure the team held onto it. He made 12 saves in the first half. In the second half, he faced a barrage from opposing Stockholm North shooters, turning away all 16 shots.
Norrbotten was outshot for the second consecutive game, this time by a margin of 28-11. It didn’t matter though, as Härenstam’s heroics propelled the team into the championship game. It was the first time since 2002 that Norrbotten had even reached the tournament’s finale — a tournament that it hadn’t won since 1985.
Love Making History For Norrbotten
Through the first two rounds, competition at TV-Pucken had proven to be razor sharp. In 11 games, the average margin of victory was just 2.18 goals. Five games were decided by just one goal, including Gästrikland’s 5-4 overtime win over Göteborg in the consolation rounds.
Härenstam’s two shutouts had lifted Norrbotten into the championship where they faced Stockholm South.
Another high-powered offense, South scored more goals in round-robin action than any other district. Seventeen different skaters combined to score 39 goals in five games. Anton Frondell, Ruben Westerling, Viktor Hedlund and Arvid Drott are among some of the top forward prospects in the country.
Teodor Friberg, Hedlund and Olle Därth got South past its first-round opponent in Gästrikland. Five different scorers elevated South past Ångermanland 6-3 in the semifinals as well.
None of that mattered when South ran into Norrbotten in the finale though.
Joseph Harmouche and Casper Karlsson-Juustovaara scored back-to-back goals less than seven minutes apart. That gave Norrbotten a 2-0 lead late in the first half. Frondell finally got Härenstam to crack, scoring on South’s 25th shot of the game with 1:53 left in regulation. It was far too little, too late though, as Norrbotten hung on to win.
Top Performers from the TV-Pucken
Härenstam’s shutout streak spanned 158:25 of game action. The tournament format consisted of two 20-minute halves, 40-minute regulation-time contests in total. He posted three consecutive shutouts in the tournament, nearly collecting a fourth in the championship. He played all but 58 seconds of action through eight games for Norrbotten. His 1.00 goals-against average and 94.9 save percentage were tops in the tournament.
Teammate Ihs-Wozniak was among the leading scorers in the TV-Pucken. Through eight games, he scored 10 goals and 18 points. Ihs-Wozniak was matched by Stockholm South’s Frondell, who also produced 18 points in eight games. Frondell had 13 in pool play and five in playoff rounds, both were top marks.
South’s Westerling led all defensemen in both goals (six) and points (nine). Småland’s Liam Pettersson led all defenders in assists with eight.