They nicknamed Skellefteå Guldstaden, meaning Gold Town, because they gazed into the future and saw their team win the 2013 Swedish hockey championship! And also because of the mining.
This year's Swedish hockey championship came down to a finale between the two northernmost clubs in the Elitserien: Skellefteå and Luleå. It was SAIK's third straight appearance in the finals. They had lost to Brynäs in 2012 and Färjestad the year before. The only time SAIK had ever won the Swedish championship was 1978. Luleå won their only championship in 1996.
April 13th, Skellefteå took the first game 1 - 0 in overtime. The next day SAIK won 2 - 4 in Luleå. SAIK won game three 2 - 1 on Tuesday. Yesterday SAIK swept the series with a 0 - 4 win in Luleå. Victory!
After sweeping Brynäs in their quarterfinal, SAIK are matched with Linköpings HC. LHC finished fifth in the regular season and advanced to the semifinals by upsetting HV71.
March 28th: Linköping won the first game 2 - 3 in Skellefteå.
March 30th: Skellefteå won 2 - 3 in Linköping.
April 1st: Skellefteå won 3 - 2 at home.
April 3rd: Skellefteå won 2 - 3 in Linköping.
Today is Game 5. SAIK can wrap up the series with a win. [Which they get, winning 3 - 1 at home.]
Leksands IF and Örebro HK have won the Kval till Elitserien, sending Timrå IK and Rögle BK down to the HockeyAllsvenskan for next year. LIF used to be a permanent fixture of the top league, but their streak of perfect attendance ended about when the century turned, and they have not been in the Elitserien at all since 2005-06. Örebro HK will be making their first appearance. (The old club Örebro IK were in the Elitserien a couple of years in the Seventies.) Timrå come to the end of a run of thirteen seasons in the top division. Rögle, who have been bouncing between the two leagues, return to the HockeyAllsvenskan after a year's absence.
Today is the final round of the Kval till HockeyAllsvenskan. Björklöven lead, but they can still be knocked off by Karlskrona and Tingsryd. [Björklöven win. They and incumbent Karlskrona will be in next year's HockeyAllsvenskan. With Björklöven, Timrå and Rögle joining it, eight out of its fourteen clubs are former Elitserien members, and five of them former Swedish champions.]
Each winter the citizens of Gävle illegally erect a giant straw goat in the centre of town, then illegally burn it down. The whole sordid tale.
Skellefteå AIK are playing Brynäs IF of Gävle in the SM-slutspel quarterfinals. SM-slutspel, the Swedish equivalent to the Stanley Cup playoffs, literally means Swedish Master Endgame, and lends the proceedings some of the intellectual aura of a chess championship. Brynäs are the defending Swedish champions, but they finished this regular season in eighth, earning themselves a pairing with first-place SAIK. Ottawa's Jakob Silfverberg played for Brynäs.
Each series in the SM-slutspel is best of seven, the games alternating ABAB(ABA) in contrast to the NHL's AABB(ABA). Today is the fourth game of the series, so it's in Gävle.
SAIK won the first game 5 - 0, the second game 3 - 7 in Gävle, and the third game 4 - 1. They can eliminate Brynäs today. [And they do. SAIK win 0 - 4, and sweep the series.]
The Playoff to the Kvalserien concluded March 13th. This playoff pitted the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh teams of the HockeyAllsvenskan against one another in a round robin for the final spot in the Kvalserien. Each team plays each other team twice, and the one with the most points moves on to the Kvalserien. The wrinkle is that the teams are also given points according to their position in the regular season standings. So before any games were played BIK Karlskoga had 4 points, Djurgårdens had 3, Örebro 2 and Oskarshamn 1. Örebro won.
So now the Kvalserien has begun. The six clubs Timrå, Rögle, Leksand, Södertälje, Västerås and Örebro will compete in a round robin for two spots in next season's Elitserien.
The HockeyAllsvenkan doesn't just supply rising clubs to the Elitserien, it receives them from Division 1. The Kval till HockeyAlsvenskan has begun, featuring six clubs, among them former Swedish champion Björklöven.
Which town is the greater metal band town, Skellefteå or Örnsköldsvik? Skellefteå is the home of Andreas Hedlund, who has performed with Otyg, Vintersorg, Havayoth, Borknagar, Fission, Waterclime, and Cronian. Örnsköldsvik produced Tomas Haake and Mårten Hagström of Meshuggah. Youdecide.
On the last day of February SAIK visited last-place Rögle BK in Ängelholm and won 2 - 3. This win locked up first place for SAIK, and twelfth place for Rögle. On March 2nd SAIK went to Frölundaborg Isstadion and lost 2 - 1 to Frölunda in overtime. SAIK entertained MODO yesterday and beat them 3 - 2 in overtime. Bud Holloway scored the game winner. SAIK finish the season in first place with 114 points. Holloway wins the scoring race with 20 golas and 51 assists. Teammates Joakim Lindström and Oscar Lindberg finish third and eighth respectively. SAIK face Brynäs in the quarterfinals.
The HockeyAllsvenskan has finished. Leksand, Södertälje and VIK Västerås came in one, two, three. They'll meet Timrå and Rögle in the Kvalserien. But first BIK Karlskoga, Djurgården, Örebro and Oskarshamn compete for the sixth spot.
On Saturday Skellefteå visited local rivals Luleå HF. You can tell both clubs are from northern Sweden because their names end in "-eå". SAIK won 3 - 4 after a tie-breaking shootout. Two assists to George ("Bud") Holloway who leads the scoring race by eleven points.
Färjestad BK come to Skellefteå Kraft Arena today trailing SAIK by eight points with only four games remaining in the schedule. If SAIK beat Färjestad, and HV71 lose their game, SAIK will clinch first place in the Elitserien for the first time since 1981.
[Skellefteå win 3 - 2 in regulation time. One assist to George ("Bud") Holloway. HV71 win in overtime, so they now sit nine points back with three games to go. In order for SAIK not to finish first they have to lose their remaining three games in regulation time and HV71 have to win their remaining three in regulation time and make up a goal difference of 29.]
The European Women's Champions Cup was played in Oulu, Finland this weekend between four of Europe's 2012's playoff winners: Kärpät Oulu (Finland), MODO Örnsköldsvik (Sweden), Tornado Moscow Region (Russia), and ZSC Lions Zurich (Switzerland). Tornado won for the second year in a row.
Since last we spoke: Feb. 2nd: Timrå beat Skellefteå 3 - 2. Bud Holloway had a goal and an assist. The Elitserien took Feb. 3rd - 10th off for an international tournament called the Oddset Games. Finland won it. Feb. 12th: Linköpings 3 - 5
Skellefteå AIK. Feb. 14th: HV71 4 - 0 SAIK. Ouch! But SAIK still hold first place by four points.
Today AIK visit SAIK.
In an earlier post I suggested that AIK is the Swedish equivalent of YMCA. A closer match would probably be Amateur Athletic Association, as in Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, the first holders of the Stanley Cup. The early Ottawa Senators were an offshoot of the Ottawa Amateur Athletic Association. AIK stands for Allmänna Idrottsklubben, or General Sports Club.
[Skellefteå win 5 - 2. They reach the 100 point mark, with six games remaining. Bud Holloway gets a goal and two assists.]