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Heroes and zeros

Helsinki IFK raised their championship banner before their regular season opener with team captain Ville Peltonen unveiling the 2011 banner.

Frederik Andersen, the Danish league MVP in 2010, and Player of the Year in 2011, signed with Frölunda Indians in the Swedish Elitserien, and has got off to a fantastic start.

Mikael Granlund doesn’t seem to be suffering from any post-World Championship gold, post-Finnish championship gold, post-postage stamp hangover, as he’s collected five points in his first two games.

Vesa Toskala is back making saves, Shjon Podein was back in Växjö. And Mike Denton saved a man’s life.

ONCE IFK – ALWAYS IFK. Helsinki IFK raised their championship banner before their regular season opener with team captain Ville Peltonen unveiling the 2011 banner.

Captains of the previous championship teams were also on the ice, unveiling the new banners commemorating their titles: Heikki Järn (1969, 1970), Matti Murto (1974), Heikki Riihiranta (1980, 1983), and Christian Ruuttu (1998).

Ville Peltonen’s father, Esa, was on the 1974, 1980, and 1983 championship teams.


GREAT DANE! Ernst Andersen was a good goalie back in the day – mid-1990s was a long time ago – when Denmark wasn’t a top division hockey nation. He won the Danish double - league and cup - in 1994, and another title in 2001, both with Herning. He played for the Danish national team in two Pool B World Championship tournaments, before retiring in 2002, and becoming a goaltending coach.

Coaching, for example, his son Frederik.

Last spring, Frederik, the Danish league MVP in 2010, and Player of the Year in 2011, signed with Frölunda Indians in the Swedish Elitserien, and has got off to a fantastic start. In his first three games, Andersen has been scored on just twice, and his save percentage, .973, ranks second in the league, behind Stockholm AIK’s (and Team Sweden’s) Viktor Fasth who’s turned away 74 of 76 shots in hist two games this season.

The hardest-working goalie so far has been Växjö Lakers’ former NHLer, Martin Gerber, who’s faced 101 shots in his three games, and has a .941 save percentage, third in the league, behind Andersen and Fasth.

Andersen’s .67 goals against average leads the league.

“I didn’t want him to be a goalie, but he insisted. He was a really good goal scorer when he was younger,” Ernst told me at the Cologne World Championships in 2010 when Frederik made his debut on the world stage.

“I coached him in the juniors, but he’s gone on since that. Today’s game is so much faster than it was in my days, but the mental part, the focus stays the same,” he added.


ANOTHER GREAT DANE. Frederik Andersen played four of Denmark’s six games in the 2011 World Championships in Bratislava. The year before, in Cologne, it was Patrick Galbraith who was the starting goalie, playing in five games as Denmark made it to the tournament quarterfinal.

That year, Galbraith’s save percentage (.935) was ninth best in the tournament, ahead of goalies like Pekka Rinne and Ondrej Pavelec, and on par with Martin Gerber and Tomas Vokoun.

His father, George, was born in Canada, but represented Denmark in the 1994 Pool B World championships, a year before Frederik Andersen’s father, Ernst, got his chance.

This second-generation goalie has played the last two seasons in Sweden, in the Hockeyallsvenskan, one division below the Elitserien, but bought himself out of his contract with Leksand last summer, to pursue a roster spot in a better league.

He got a tryout with Mannheim in the German league - while former NHL goaltender Fred Brathwaite was recovering from an injury – but signed recently with Slovan Bratislava in the Slovak Extraliga.


GRANDLUND. We probably shouldn’t be drawing major conclusions based on just two games, but let’s do it anyway.

Mikael Granlund doesn’t seem to be suffering from any post-World Championship gold, post-Finnish championship gold, post-postage stamp hangover, as he’s collected five points in the first two games and leads the SM-liiga in scoring, like many have predicted he would.

Other notable players who have got off to a great start are Granlund’s teammate Ville Peltonen, who’s scored four points; former first-round draft pick Jesse Niinimäki, who collected four assists in his first game, and Sami Kapanen, who unretired this season, and has scored points in both games this season.


TOSKALA IS BACK. What would you say if I told you that Vesa Toskala, who practically missed the entire season 2010-11, having played just two unimpressive games for Stockholm AIK, recorded a shutout in his first game of the Finnish SM-liiga season?

Well, that’s exactly what I am telling you.

The 34-year-old Tampere native made 33 saves in Tampere Ilves’s game against Hämeenlinna HPK, and was elected first star of the game.


SHJON THE LEGEND.Växjö Lakers, the 22nd club to play in the Swedish Elitserien, played their historic first Elitserien home game on Saturday, in their brand new Vida Arena.

One of the highlights of the opening ceremony was Shjon Podein’s return to Växjö where the 2001 Stanley Cup winner played between 2003 and 2005 when the team played in Hockeyallsvenskan. He collected 48 points in 62 games with the team.

“I love the people who brought me here, and all my teammates. My time in Växjö was one of the best experiences I had in my career,” he told the club’s website.

He was asked if he missed anything from Sweden.

“My good friends – and kebab pizza,” he said, laughing.


DANTON, THE LIFE SAVER. Former St. Louis Blues forward Mike Danton, now with IFK Ore in the Swedish Division 1 - two tiers below the Elitserien - was quick to act when his teammate hit his head on the plexiglass and lay helpless on the ice in Ore’s regular season opener on Sunday.

“I have seen seizures before. In prison, druggies would come in off the streets and have withdrawals. Their seizures would last 30-60 seconds. They would shit their pants and piss themselves and then they would be fine. So, when the convulsions did not seize after a couple of minutes, I knew something was wrong,” Danton writes in his blog.

“One of the luxuries of my prison experience afforded me to take a first aid course and become certified in first aid response … His tongue, I thought. Shit, he is going to choke on his tongue. I tried to open his mouth, but to no avail. Also, I did not want him to fall unconscious, so I began to slap him fairly hard in the face,” he adds.

When Bengtsson’s mouth opened, Danton knew what to do

“I jammed my fingers into his mouth and clawed his tongue. While I did that, Max and Roger tilted “Bengan” on to his side to keep his tongue and blood from sliding into his throat. His convulsions went on for what seemed like forever. Emergency help did take forever, as we are 35 minutes from the closest ambulance.

“There was nothing that we could do but wait and hope for the best.  What must have been 6 or 7 minutes of convulsing all of a sudden stopped,” writes Danton who had an assist in Ore’s 4-3 win over Söderhamn/Ljusne.

Danton was a member of the St. Louis Blues when he was arrested in 2004 in a murder-for-hire plot. He served 5 and a half years in prison.

Risto Pakarinen wrote this entry in Sollentuna, Sweden, home of Brynäs goaltender Niklas Svedberg. You can follow him on Twitter as @puckarinen.

Filed in: | Puckarinen Hits A Post | Permalink
  Tags: frederik+andersen, hifk, ifk+ore, ilves, mikael+granlund, mike+danton, patrick+galbraith, sami+kapanen, shjon+podein, växjö+lakers, vesa+toskala, viktor+fasth, ville+peltonen

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About Puckarinen Hits A Post

Risto Pakarinen is a Finnish freelance writer, based in Stockholm, Sweden.

That's right, he's deep behind the enemy lines. He's also a regular contributor to IIHF.com, NHL.com, The Hockey News, and several publications in Finland and Sweden. He's also covered four World Championships and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics for the IIHF.

And since he foolishly hoisted the Stanley Cup in his twenties, he wakes up every morning knowing he will never be able to win it.