Thursday, September 23, 2010

An introduction to the Norwegian Elite League - part 3

Click for part 1 and part 2.

Storhamar Dragons

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History
Storhamar was founded in 1957. They enjoyed a great period from the mid 90s until 2-3 years ago, but have faded the last 2 years. They won the Norwegian Championship in 95,96,97,00,04 and 08. They won the league in 92/93, 93/94, 94/95, 95/96, 00/01, 03/04 and 05/06.

Last season
They finished 8th and lost to Vålerenga in the semis 1-4.

Arena
Hamar OL-Amfi (Hamar Olympic Amphitheatre) was built in 1992 for the 1994 Winter Olympics. It seats 6 091 people. The arena is very beautiful and the facilities are great. Nothing bad to say about it, except that it gets empty and big at times.





Location
Storhamar are from Hamar, a city 2 hours North of Oslo, by the shore of Norway's biggest lake, Mjøsa.

Location in Norway (green dot):


Key personell
They have a no-name goalie staff and defense. The forwards are lead by veterans Pål Johnsen and Eirik Skadsdammen. Both have national team experience, but Johnsen is over the top and Skadsdammen is in the second tier of Norwegian players. Goalie Robert Hestmann and winger Joakim Jensen both have great talent, but have never really panned out.

Overview
This team is much weaker than in their glory years. They have no really great players and the team isn't deep enough either. Nevertheless, they're not terrible and I think they will finish seventh and lose in the first round.


Lørenskog

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History
Lørenskog was founded in 1963. They have never won anything and usually been up and down between the Elite league and division one.

Last season
They finished 4th and lost 4-1 to Storhamar in the quarters.

Arena
Lørenskog ishall was built in 1984 and takes 1 350 people. It is decent, with decent facilities, but is and looks kinda cheap and simple.



Location
Lørenskog is a suburb right outside the Northeastern borders of Oslo. My band rehearses there.

Location in greater Oslo (red pin):


Key personell
The veteran goalie Tommy Lund guards the goal. He is probably among the weaker starters in the league. The defense has a lot of decent guys, the most notable is National team captain and former German league star Tommy Jakobsen. Among the forwards they are stacked. Knut Henrik Spets, Mats Frøshaug, Lars Erik Spets, Kenneth Larsen and Anders Fredriksen all have quite a bit of national team experience. Mats Frøshaug is a Canucks draft pick and a former teammate of mine, but he has yet to really pan out.

Overview
The team has pumped a lot of money into this year. They have stolen lots of players and the coach from Vålerenga and they look stacked. I think they have the strongest lineup in the league and that they will win the league, but lose in the semis.


Vålerenga

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History
The club Vålerenga was founded in 1913, but they didn't take up hockey until the late 1950s. Since then they have dominated Norwegian hockey. They became Norwegian champions the following 26 times: 1960, 1962-3, 1965-71, 1973, 1982, 1985, 1987-8, 1991-3, 1998-9, 2001, 2003, 2005-7 and won the league the following 26 times: 1962-71, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1991-4, 1996, 1998-2000, 2002-3, 2005, 2007, 2009.

It should be said. This team is Norway's most popular hockey team. Their football team is the most popular football team. Everyone in Oslo with no ties to another team roots for them. They are my team's rivals and were the only team that could compete with us in my age group. They are arrogant, they have a horrible macho culture inside the club, would rather take players from other clubs than develop themselves and always have a lot of money (by Norwegian standards) and get bailed out by investors every time (often) they almost go bankrupt cause they don't understand economy. I hate them with all my heart and soul.

Last season
They won the league, but lost the finals to Stavanger 2-4.

Arena
Jordal Amfi taked 4 450 people and was built for the 1952 winter Olympics in Oslo. It got a roof in 1971. It is old and weird. The stands are very steep. It is assymetric. It gets a lot of critisism for being old, but the facilities for players are nice. There are few facilities for the fans, but it is very intimate and loud and very special. People want a new arena, but I like it and hope it stays. Oh, and it is a five minute walk from where I live.





Location
Vålerenga is a part of Oslo on the inner East side. It is a traditional working class part of the city, but has been shined up lately and a lot of young people live here, including, ironically since I hate the team, me. It's a very cozy part of the city.

Location in Oslo (green dot):


Key personell
The most famous guy in the organization is Norway's best hockey player ever, former Djurgården, Mighty Ducks and Blue Jackets great Espen Knutsen. He is the team's coach. Among the player, Patrick des Rochers, the team's goalie is the key player. The former Coyotes first round pick (1998, 14th overall) who has 11 NHL games for Phoenix and Carolina is arguably the league's best goalie. The defense is lead by veteran team Norway defenseman Lars Erik Lund. Up front the team is stacked with young Norwegian talent, while the experience is provided by new American aquisition Mark McCutcheon (has AHL experience), and Canadian former Caps pick (few AHL games) Blake Evans.

I know guys on each team in the league, but defenseman Anders Hilt Jørgensen is the one I know the best. He grew up 3 doors from me and his mom is married to my mom's cousin (not his father though). We went to school together and were good friends for a while. He's not very talented, but has enough skill to be a decent 5th-6th defenseman in the league due to good hockey sense and most of all, enormous amounts of will.

Overview
This team SUCKS with economy. They used way too much money the last few years and now they have to pay. Lørenskog raided their roster and their team is their weakest in many years. Still, they have a good, talented team and with support og a large fanbase they should do well enough to place fourth and then lose in the finals.

An introduction to the Norwegian Elite League - part 2

Click here for part 1.

Sparta Warriors (the club is really named Sparta Sarpsborg

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History
Sparta was founded in 1958. They won the Norwegian Championships in 1984 and 1989. In 1995 they went bankrupt and got relegated to level 3, but were back in the elite league just 2 years later.

Last season
Sparta finished second in the league and lost 2-4 in the semis to Stavanger.

Arena
Sparta Amfi was built in 1963 and became Norway's first indoor hockey arena. The building is old and the facilities are pretty run down and the dressing rooms are shitty. The arena itself is dark and cavernous and has a capacity of 3 450 people. As bad as the arena is, it is often full and when the crowd is rocking it is LOUD. It's probably the hardest road arena to play in.





Location
Sarpsborg is a city in the county Østfold. It is 50 mins or so East of Oslo, towards the Swedish border.

This pic shows its location in the Southern half of Norway (green dot):


Key personell
Defenseman Mat Robinson who has NCAA and AHL experience looks like a very exciting addition before this season. The same does 21 year old Alaska product Dion Knelsen (FW). But the two key players for the team are forward Henrik Malmström, a swede with a lot of experience from the Swedish Elite league, and team captain Jonas Andersen. Andersen is an experienced forward with some national team experience and some experience from Sweden.

Overview
Sparta has a team with a mix of good young players and some experienced veterans. It's not the team with the most star power, but they have a very deep team and are hard to play against. Sarpsborg has hockey as its number one sport and lately hockey has become extremely popular there. They even call themselves Hockeytown (ugh). And with a good team and a good home crowd, this will be a team to be reckoned with. I think they will finish third in the league and then win the championship.


Stavanger Oilers

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History
Stavanger Oilers was founded by Finnish expats in 2000 and was promoted to the Elite League a couple of years later. They won their first Norwegian championship in 2010.

Last season
They finished third in the league and won the Norwegian Championship.

Arena
Siddishallen takes 3 100 people and was built in 1968. It's an old arena, but it has decent facilities and has been shined up lately, so it's a pretty nice arena. Nothing special, but nice enough.





Location
Stavanger is a city on the Southwestern coast of Norway. It's a pretty nice city and it is the oil capital of Norway.

Location in Norway (green dot):


Key personell
Finnish goalie Antti Ore is a key reason for their recent success. Defensively, Norwegian national team player Juha Kaunismäki is the anchor. Henrik Solberg also has some nation team time. Former UMass, Griffins and Springfield defenseman Cleve Kinley is an exciting addition too. Up front Lars-Peder Nagell, Snorre Hallem and Marius Trygg are both veterans with national team experience. Peter Lorentzen is on the national team now and is a key forward. Several Swedish and Finnish forwards round out the pack.

Overview
This team has a few very good Norwegian players and then a good crop of foreigners. Ex-national team player and coach Petter Thoresen coaches them well and there is no doubt that this is one of the country's better teams. I predict a second place finish and then a loss in the semifinals.


Rosenborg

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History
Rosenborg is mostly known as Norway's best football club. The hockey team was founded in 1934, but always lived in the shadow of city rival Trondheim IK. When TIK went bankrupt a couple of years ago it opened the door for Rosenborg, who was promoted to the elite league this year.

Last season
They won the division 1 comfortably and got promoted after placing second in the promotion/relegation playoffs.

Arena
Leangen ishall was built in 1977 and takes 3 000 people. I have never been there, so I know nothing about it really.





Location
Rosenborg is from Norway's third biggest city, Trondheim, which is in the middle of the country, by the coast.

Location in the country (green dot):


Key personell
In goal they have young national team backup Ruben Smith. He's a pretty good goalie (and a nice guy). On defense, young Lars Petter Mengshoel will be a key player. I remember playing against him as a youngster and the kid is good. Offensively Inge Stokvik has always been the club's big player, but now he has help from former University of Vermont product (and Detroit Little Ceasars product) Colin Vock and former Hamilton Bulldog Ilya Dubkov.

Overview
The team has been strengthened a little since last year, but their roster remains to thin and full of young, inexperienced player. The fact that David Brodawski, a guy who played one year above me for the same team as me, makes the team scares me. I predict that they finish last, but survive the relegation round.


Stjernen (means The Star)

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History
The team was founded in 1960. They became Norwegian Champions in 1981 and 1986. They won the league in 1986/87.

Last season
Stjernen finished 6th and lost to arch rivals Sparta 2-4 in the quarters.

Arena
Stjernehallen was built in 1970 and takes 2 473 people. It's a bit old, but it is nice enough and has decent facilities, even though the dressing rooms are a bit cramped. This is the arena where my team won the Norwegian Championship in my age group (15 year olds) in 2003.



Location
Stjernen are from Fredrikstad, a city in Østfold, 50 minutes East of Oslo, towards Sweden. The city is almost grown together with Sparta's hometown Sarpsborg.

Location in Southern Norway (green dot):


Key personell
The team has National team starter (and plumber) Pål Grotnes in goal. On defense they have no big names, though Alex Syversen, ex-teammate, is an asshole. Henric Höglund and Elias Godoy leads the team offensively.

Overview
The team doesn't have too many big names, but the team is deep and filled with pretty good players. I think they will finish 5th and lose in the first round.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An introduction to the Norwegian Elite League - part 1

So, the first pre-season game is tonight, but I dunno if we even get to see it. And frankly, as nice as it is to see the guys on ice again and stuff.. well frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. Now, that's a lie. I just wanted to say that, but honestly, all this pre-season stuff doesn't interest me way too much. So no preview for this one. Instead I thought I would introduce you to the Norwegian Elite League and its teams, seeing as it started this Sunday. Now, I don't follow the league way too closely, but I follow it closely enough to give you guys the general idea.

First of all: This is a bush league. It has second rate Norwegians for the most part, together with third and fourth rate Swedes, Czechs and Americans.

Second of all, the format: The league consists of ten teams (though last year, one team had to drop out after a month due to bankruptcy.. yes.. seriously). Each team faces the other teams five times each, for a total of 45 games. The top 8 teams make the playoffs. The number one seed gets to pick which one of the four lower seed they get in the quarterfinals. Then number two picks and so on and so on. This is total bullshit, and last year it lead to my team (the 7th seed) having to take on the first seed, because the first seed wanted to avoid travel. So we got a harder opponent than we had deserved by our play during the regular season. Total bullshit. The quarters are best of seven. Then it's on to the semis, with the same picking system. The semis and the finals are best of seven. The two last teams enter relegation play with the top two teams from division one. This is a round-robbin thingy where the two best teams play in the Elite league the next yeat and the two others go to division one.

Now.. onto the teams:

Frisk Tigers (the club is really named Frisk/Asker though)

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History
The club was founded in 1922. They became Norwegian Champions in 75, 79 and 02. They won the league in 73/74, 75/76, 76/77, 77/78 and 07/08.

Last season
The team finished 9th (dead last), but survived the relegation tournament.

Arena
Askerhallen, has an official capacity of 1342 seated places plus 1058 standing places, but they've had as many as 3200 people in there. It's an old and kinda run down arena with cramped locker rooms. It's never a fun place to play, but when it's full and the crowd is rocking, it's loud, it's rowdy and the whole building shakes. Not a fun place to play an away game.





Location
Asker is a suburb west of Oslo, a 20 minute drive from the city limits.

This map shows its location in Norway (marked with a black dot):


And here is its location in greater Oslo (green dot):



Key personell
Frisk is probably the team with the two most famous players in the Norwegian Elite League. The biggest name for Norwegians, and maybe also for Wings fans is ex-Red Wing, Avs, Isles, Bruin and cocaine fuckup, defenseman Anders Myrvold. Myrvold was aquired from Stjernen before the season and they expect him to play a key role as maybe the teams top defenseman. If he is on form, he is a smart, experienced and physical defenseman, but seeing as he is yet again having off ice trouble with the law, it's hard to say how well it will go.

The biggest name internationally, is Rene Corbet, who has 362 NHL games for 4 different clubs. You might remember him as the guy both scored and fought in the Fight Night. He was aquired from Germany in the middle of last season and helped a team that almost exlusively lost, get more competetive. He might be old and not what he once was, but in this league he is still an effective player.

Another name worth noticing is the 22 year old captain Henrik Ødegaard. They this skilled defenseman captain before last season and see him as their leader for the future. He's a good player and a nice guy who gave us opposing forwards a lot of grief when we were younger.

It is also worth noting that even though forward Fredrik Rålm is a year younger than me, we were teammates for a lot of years.

Overview
After a very successful 07/08 season, they lost their top three scorers, the Canadian Abbott brothers and Mats Zuccarello Aasen to the Swedish league. That lead to two weak seasons and though they have now beefed up a bit with Corbet and Myrvold, they are still a team full of young no-name players who need more experience. They will fight hard for a playoff spot, but due to my own homerific tendencies I think they will finish 9th.


Lillehammer IK

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History
The club was founded in 1957. Their only Norwegian championship came in 1994.

Last season
Lillehammer finished 5th in the league and lost 2-4 in the first round to Stavanger.

Arena
Kristins Hall, built in 1988, takes 3 194 people. It's a pretty nice arena, nothing flashy, but nice and comfortable, both for the fans and the players. It also has a curling rink. Ironically enough, Norway's maybe nicest arena, Håkons Hall, is it's next door neighboor, but it is too expensive to use.





And just for shits and giggles, it's neighboor, Håkons Hall (capacity 11 500):


Location
Lillehammer, known for having hosted the 1994 Olympics, is located about 3 hours North of Oslo, by Norway's biggest lake, Mjøsa. Very pretty city actually.

Location in Norway:


Key personel
The team has lost a lot of key players and is mostly filled with no names, but American Gino Guyer (FW) and Canadians Evan Chevrie (FW) and Scot Hotham (D) have some AHL experience on their resumes. Canadian goalie Jonathan Boutin has played for an impressive amount of AHL clubs, despite only being 25 years old. Defenseman Justin Bostrom has experience from the University of Minnesota and was one of the top scorers for my team, Manglerud Star, last year.

Overview
This team always has a core of good young players, due to their junior team being linked to one of Norway's too Ice Hockey high schools (the other is Frisk's). They have lost some good players, but also loaded up with a few new foreign players, but I fear that their team will be mediocre yet again this year, with too little experience to match up against the best. A 6th place and first round exit is my guess.


Manglerud Star

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History
The club was founded in 1913. They have never won the league, but won the Norwegian Championship in 77 and 78. The jersey's are actually due to mistakenly recieving jerseys meant for the Minnesota North Stars as training jerseys back in the 70s and since then the design has been more or less inspired by that franchise. Yes, they are ugly, but I donned that jersey myself for 10 years, so I love it.

Last Season
Manglerud Star (often called M/S), finished 7th, but lost 1-4 to Vålerenga in the first round.

Arena
Manglerudhallen was built in 1979. When I played there it took less than 1000 people and was a shithole. The dressing rooms in the arena had no showers and were only for use during intermissions. You had to walk 50 meters outside to get to the clubhouse, which had a few, small, shitty dressing rooms. It was cold, old and bad. In 2004 it finally got rebuilt and now it's a pretty nice, comfortable and modern arena with a capacity of 2000 people. Of course I retired right when the building was about to be finished, so I never got to play in the new arena.

Found no images of the arena.

Location
Manglerud is a suburb in Eastern Oslo (see the Norway map under Frisk Asker to find Oslo).

Location in Oslo (blue dot):


Key personel
This is an incredibly young team with no real big names. Captain Peter Andersen is a huge forward who is slow, but has good hands and who scores a lot. Otherwise, a fair bit of talent, but no real profiles. Forward Jonas Moen was my classmate for 3 years.

Overview
The team always excels in the younger age classes. My team won the league every year and we got a Norwegian championship and a silver in our age group. But due to bad economy, leadership and results, the best players have always ended up in other clubs. This year they ice the league's youngest team, with an average age of 22. They have no experience, but a lot of talent and I hope for an 8th place finish and first round exit.

The next part will come soon

25:19 week 8: Disappointments, arena names, Datsyuk and more

Welcome to 25:19, a feature that will run every Tuesday for 19 (duh!) weeks. Every week I will make 5 (Nick) lists, with 5 (number of rings Nick will retire with) points on each list. Thus having 25 (DMac) points in total every week. The lists will be random hockey stuff, some rankings, other in random order. Some will be opinions, others humour. I will leave it to you judge what is what. Hopefully you will find it entertaining and/or provoking enough to leave your ideas on things I missed and what I did wrong in the comments.

1. Five teams that will disappoint this season
- Chicago: Will disappoint us by being decent and making the playoffs, and their fans by not being near a division title or a cup.
- Tampa Bay: High expectations and a lot of new faces, but still not enough depth.
- New York Rangers: Cause they always do.
- Toronto: No, this is not a playoff team.
- Sharks: No cup this year either.

2. Five reasons I've missed hockey
- I miss seeing my team win.
- I miss the goal horn
- I miss the speed and intensity
- I miss the sounds of the game.
- I miss the huge hits.

3. Five companies that should buy arena naming rights
- Red Bull Center, in New Jersey, cause let's face it, you need ten of those to stay awake during a Devils game.
- Fisherman's friend Pavillion, in San Jose, yeah kinda lame, but uh..
- Progressive Center, in Montreal, cause you're gonna need car insurance if you park outside for a playoff game.
- Bud Lite Center and Miller Lite Center, in Pittsburgh and Chicago, cause the teams are as overhyped as the products.
- Prozac Place, in Edmonton, cause their fans need it.

4. Five amazing old player nicknames
- "One Eyed" Frank McGee (Ottawa Silver Seven 1903-1906)
- Georges "The Tabasco Kid" Poulin (Montreal Canadiens 1909-1917)
- Georges "The Chicoutimi Cucumber" Vezina (Montreal Canadiens 1910-1926)
- Goldie "The Cinnamon Bearcat" Prodger (Various teams 1909-1925)
- Ace "Major Hoople of Bracebridge" Bailey (Toronto Maple Leafs 1926-1933(

5. Five Pavel Datsyuk clips that will make you smile and be fired up for the season
- Hey Mike Grier, goodbye Mike Grier
- I can flip it over the net too.
- Who the hell is Tomas Voukoun?
- Maybe the Hawks should have watched this before they signed Turco.
- A real #DanEllisProblem


Eye Candy
Going a different way today



And I heard grey hair is hot..