Paul Kitagaki Jr/Zuma Press/Icon SMI)
Since a stint in the OHL during the 2004-05 season, diminutive forward Mathis Olimb has taken a bit of a whirlwind ride through the European ranks. His stations have included two years in Norway, two years in Germany, a year in Sweden, a year in the AHL and then this past season for the Frolunda Indians of the SEL. All these stations and Mathis is only 26 years of age.
Olimb is currently considered one of the top three playmakers in the SEL. Incredibly noticeable on the ice thanks to his deceiving agility and patience with the puck, Olimb is trying to do his part to help Norway experience some success at the 2012 World Championship.
Hockey’s Future talked to Olimb for a bit after a hard-fought battle against Sweden to open the World Championship.
Hockey’s Future: Tough 4-1 loss tonight, but you had nothing to lose against a stacked Swedish team to start the tournament. What’s your synopsis of tonight’s game?
Mathis Olimb: It was a tough loss, but we’ve still got a good chance to go to the quarterfinals. That’s the good thing about the new set-up (Ed. note: all eight teams in each group now play each of the other opponents in the group), because now we’ve got a lot of games to play.
HF: The arena here in Stockholm, Globen, wasn’t sold out tonight, but when Norway did something good, you sure could hear it. What did you think about the many Norwegian fans in attendance here this evening?
MO: We were really happy with the fans from Norway. They were amazing. I got goosebumps when the national anthem was being sung. I’m very proud to be Norwegian and I’m proud that so many people from Norway come to cheer us on today.
HF: You’ve now had two very successful years here in Sweden sandwiched around an injury-plagued AHL sojourn with the Chicago Blackhawks organization. Is it that much more special for you to play the World Champions right here in a country you’ve been showing off your talents in?
MO: Heck, it’s almost like being at home. As you saw, there were a lot of fans from home here tonight. We just feel like we’re practically in our own backyard here.
HF: Last year in Bratislava, you weren’t almost at home, but you had an incredible tournament nonetheless, finishing sixth overall and having beaten the Swedes along the way. What do you think you need to do to repeat your success from last year?
MO: It’s pretty much what we did today. Play our game. Play strong defense. Try to make optimal use of our power play and then score on odd-man rushes. Today we weren’t so lucky, but hopefully things will bounce our way throughout the rest of the tournament.
HF: Mathis, you’re getting a lot of ice time, often being double-shifted, and a lot of offensive responsibility. Are you happy with your role on the team?
MO: Oh yes, absolutely. It’s the same role I had in my club team in Sweden. It’s something I like for sure. I thrive on it.
HF: Speaking of which, do you know what you’re doing next season.
MO: Yes, I’ll be remaining with the Frolunda Indians of the SEL for now.