Young quintet earns chance with Tre Kronor

By Peter Westermark
Team Sweden General Manager Anders Hedberg left a few big names off the roster when he named the team that will compete in the Baltica Brewery Cup that is taking place in Russia starting december 17th.

Stars like goaltender Mikael Tellqvist and forwards Jörgen Jönsson and Mikael Renberg will be allowed to start celebrating christmas early as the Team Sweden officials want a long look at five 1980-born rising stars.

That group starts with 20-year-old HV71 goaltender Stefan Liv, a candidate for rookie of the year in Sweden. Liv, along with Johan Asplund in Brynäs, are the youngest number one goaltenders in the Elitserien. The other goalie making the trek to Russia is 25-year-old Andreas Hadelöv from Malmö, a product of the highly-regarded youth hockey system in Kiruna which has produced goalies such as Peter ”Pekka” Lindmark in the past.

Mathias Weinhandl will make his Tre Kronor debut in Moscow. The MoDo winger´s career suffered a major setback last season when he was high-sticked in the eye by Czech bad boy Michal Travnicek during a game with the Swedish National Junior Team. It was not clear immediately after the accident if he could return to hockey as his right eye was badly injured. Vision in the eye has now stabilized at around 10% and it is not known how much it will improve, if at all.

The mild mannered Ljungby native has showed exceptional character and mental strength through this whole ordeal and he is now firing on all cylinders again. The Islanders prospect is leading MoDo with nine goals and 12 assists in 29 games. Weinhandl recently signed a new two-year deal with the Örsnsköldsvik club.

Power winger Christian Berglund and flashy center Henrik Zetterberg are included in the squad again after showing no signs of slowing down midway through the season. Zetterberg, a Red Wings draft pick, remains the favourite to capture rookie of the year honours in Sweden as he is sixth in league scoring with 28 points as many games. The 6´0, 190 pound Berglund (New Jersey) is among the most penalized players in the league, but also a skilled hard-working player with a long National Hockey League career ahead of him.

Dallas prospect Gabriel Karlsson rounds out the group of 1980-born players picked to play in the tournament. Karlsson has made a big splash in the Swedish league after returning to play for Leksand after only a few months in Finland, where he received sporadic ice time with Porin Ässät. Karlsson has scored six goals and four assists in fourteen games.

The full roster can be found at www.swehockey.se

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