Ice Hockey Column: Sit back an enjoy Europe’s top ‘studs’

Joel Lundqvist
Joel Lundqvist

You want to see some of the best players in Europe, NHL draft picks, and World Junior Champions? Then I have just the place for you. The Motorpoint Arena on August 30 and September 5.

They, of course, are the dates of the Steelers two Champions Hockey League games against JYP Jyvskyla and Frolunda Gothenberg. What a prospect those two games are looking. I can’t remember any better club teams gracing the ice in Sheffield.

Take Frolunda, for example. Of their 24 man roster right now, 14 of them are NHL draft picks. Add to that, four of their best youngsters have left in the summer to take up NHL contracts.

One of their star players is Jacob Larsen. He was drafted in the first round at the recent NHL draft by Anaheim - for all our sakes let’s hope we don’t see him in September and that Anaheim can offer him a big contract to move him away from Frolunda.

Or do we want to see him and the likes of Robin Figren who played two years in Bridgeport with Dustin Kohn and Pascal Morency? How about Andreas Johnson, who last year was the Champions Hockey League’s second highest point scorer with 25 in just 12 games?

Then there is Artturi Lehkonen. He captained the Finnish under 20s side to a silver medal at the recent World Championships... don’t worry, he added that silver to the gold medal he won the year before. He will be in Sheffield in September but I suspect not for much longer than that, as the Montreal Canadiens own his rights and want him sooner rather than later.

If you like your NHL you will know the name Henrik Lundqvist, the goalie of New York Rangers. His brother Joel is no slouch either. Just the 159 NHL games to add to the 636 in the Swedish Elite League (SHL), he captains Frolunda and has also played 115 times for Sweden, captaining them on 18 occasions.

Arizona Coyotes have their teeth into 18-year-old Anton Karlsson. He captained Sweden’s U17 and 18s and last year collected a silver medal at the World under 20’s Championships. I could go on and on... every player on their roster is a stud. These are the stars of Europe today and the stars of the NHL tomorrow.

So I am happy that Larsen, Lundqvist, Figren and Co. will be in Sheffield. We want to compare ourselves to the best. This Frolunda side is the Manchester United of Swedish hockey. We have earned the right to host these two incredible sides.

It’s exciting and it’s the next step in the Steelers progression as a hockey club. A learning experience? Maybe, but what an experience for not only the players, but for us to watch these great teams from the comfort of our Arena seats. Bring it on is what I say, but then again I would. I’m 300 feet up in the stands watching, enjoying and admiring!

some of the best players in the world not down on the ice battling with them.

If you love your Steelers, love your hockey then Sunday 30th August and Saturday 5th September will already be in your diary – tickets are on sale from the Motorpoint (Sheffield) Arena Box Office – 0114 256 5656