Jonathan Sandberg leads team to victory at top Swedish tournament
The Folke Filbyter Cup is one of the top youth hockey tournaments in Sweden. It regularly showcases some of the top players in the U15 age group from across the country. Because of that, it has also become one of the premier events in all of youth hockey.
This year, clubs from the 2008 age group competed in two pools of six teams. After a five-game round robin, the top four teams from each pool advanced to an eight-team playoff. There, Södertälje managed to win back-to-back one-goal games to win the 2022 Folke Filbyter championship.
Södertälje — currently unranked in the latest World Rankings — outlasted a field that consisted of Top Swedish teams No. 1 Nacka HK, No. 3 Täby HC, No. 5 Malmö Redhawks, No. 7 Linköping HC and No. 10 SDE Hockey.
In pool play, SSK tied top-ranked Nacka 3-3 on Friday. Jonathan Sandberg tallied a goal and an assist in that game to earn a crucial point in the standings. The next day, Lucas Brauer delivered a three-point game for SSK to earn another 3-3 tie with Linköping. Holding onto a tie in both of those contests proved to be the difference in the standings. It allowed Södertälje to squeak into the playoff rounds as the 6-seed.
Survive and Advance at Folke Filbyter
The top four teams from each pool advanced to the playoff rounds. The top team from each pool faced the lowest seed from the opposing pool, and the second seed faced the third seed in cross-pool matchups as well.
Södertälje proved to be the only lower seed to survive the quarterfinals with a 5-1 win over Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg. Sandberg again made his presence felt with two goals and an assist. Joel Falck, Marcus Sӧderman and Christian Furuvik added goals as well.
Continuing in its underdog role, SSK was one of four teams remaining alongside Nacka, Täby and Linköping.
Sӧderman — who hadn’t scored a goal in pool play — scored his second goal of the playoff rounds 13 minutes into the semifinal game. It tied the game at 1-1 and gave Södertälje life heading into the second half. Then, just over seven minutes into the second period, Brauer scored his fourth goal of the weekend to give SSK an eventual 2-1 win. That put the team firmly in the championship game, where they’d face Täby.
The championship game featured four lead changes. Södertälje traded blows back and forth with the higher-ranked opponent right down to the wire. They led 1-0 out of the gate. Came from behind to tie the game up at 2-2 before intermission. Let a 3-2 lead slip away with under 10 minutes to play. But with just six seconds left in regulation, Christian Furuvik tucked one home past Taby’s Caspar Lampe to give Södertälje a dramatic 4-3 upset victory.
Sandberg — who had two points in the championship — led all scorers on the weekend with 17 points. Vilmer Salén-Forsberg allowed six goals against on 41 shots in his two starts in pool play. However, when the focus shifted to elimination rounds, Salén-Forsberg elevated his play with a 1.67 goals-against average and 91.2 save percentage. He started all three playoff games for Södertälje en route to the championship.
From Unranked to Champions
Through the first two months of the season, Södertälje had been relatively quiet in game action. The 2008 squad was absent from the Sweden Hockey Trophy and DIF Elitcup in September. Those two events are significant ones for the age group. Through October, the only body of work on record was a 4-0-0 performance in Stockholm group play. None of those opponents were among the Swedish Top 10 teams either.
So, for Södertälje to tie the top-ranked team in the country. And then tie and defeat the No. 7 team in the country. And then defeat the No. 3 team in the country with a championship on the line? SSK made its statement loud and clear that it belongs amongst the top programs in Scandinavia and beyond.