|National teams|| Men's|
|National federation||Swedish Ice Hockey Association|
|IIHF since||March 23, 1912|
|Top league||Swedish Hockey League|
|Current champion||Växjö Lakers|
Sweden is a country in the Nordic region of Northern Europe. Stockholm is the capital and largest city.
|Swedish Hockey League||1975||-||Top-level national competition|
|HockeyAllsvenskan||1999||-||Second-level national competition|
|Hockeyettan||1975||-||Third-level national competition*|
|Swedish Division 2||1941||-||Fourth-level national competition**|
|Swedish Division 3||1999||-||Fifth-level regional competition|
|Swedish Division 4||1999||-||Sixth-level regional competition|
|Swedish Division 5||-||Seventh-level regional competition|
|Swedish Division 6||-||Eighth-level regional competition|
|Swedish Ice Hockey Association||1922||1952||Defunct national championship|
|Träningsserien||1922||1922||Defunct top-level league|
|Klass I||1923||1927||Defunct top-level league|
|Elitserien||1927||1935||Defunct top-level league|
|Svenska Serien||1935||1944||Defunct top-level league|
|Swedish Division I||1944||1975||Defunct top-level league|
|Swedish junior competitions||-||Various junior competitions|
|Riksserien||1987||-||Top-level women's competition|
(*Formerly known as Division 1; second-level league from 1975-1999.**Formerly second-tier league from 1941-1975 and third-level competition from 1975-1999.)
History of hockey in SwedenEdit
For more information on the early years, please see Bandy and Ice Hockey in Sweden (1894-1930).
Raoul Le Mat, an American movie distributor who moved to Stockholm in 1919, was the founding father of ice hockey in Sweden. Impressed by the country's bandy players (bandy had been played in Sweden since 1895), and convinced that their skating skills would make them good hockey players, Le Mat convinced the Swedish Olympic Committee to field an ice hockey team for the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp. Le Mat coached the team at the tournament
He donated the Le Mat Trophy, awarded to the Swedish national champion, in 1926. Sweden had previously become a member of the IIHF on March 23, 1912. On November 17, 1922, seven clubs based in Stockholm founded the Swedish Ice Hockey Association, with Le Mat among the co-founders. In 1923, the association was admitted to the Royal Sports Union of Sweden. Isaac Westergren was the first chairman of the hockey union, and was succeeded two years later by Anton Johansson, who held the position until 1949. The country's first artificial ice rink was built inside a former airplane hangar in 1931 and it remained the country's only indoor facility until 1938, hosting 1,032 games over that time.
The Swedish Ice Hockey Championship was first contested in 1922. The championship was a separate competition from the league until 1952. It was a standalone tournament, played in a knockout format, where teams could submit their participation. In other words, the leagues were not connected with the Swedish Championship during this period. IK Göta Ishockey, which featured a number of national team members, was the best team in the early years, winning seven of the first nine championships.
Today the Swedish Hockey League (formerly the Elitserien) is the premier ice hockey competition in Sweden. The league is one of the best in Europe and is a very popular attraction. In 2010–11, the SHL was the world's most evenly matched professional ice hockey league. During the 2011–12 season, the SHL was the most well attended ice hockey league in Europe, averaging 6,385 spectators per game. Below the SHL lies the HockeyAllsvenskan, which also receives a heavy following. In the 2012–13 season, the league had by far the highest average attendance of any second-tier league in Europe, averaging 3,227 spectators per game. Overall, Djurgårdens IF Hockey has won the most national championships, with 16, followed by Brynäs IF and their 13 titles.
Ice hockey in Sweden uses the promotion and relegation system. The worst two teams from the Swedish play the best four of the Allsvenskan at the end of the season in a league competition called the Kvalserien (qualification series). Likewise, the worst two teams from the Allsvenskan have to play in a similar competition, the Kvalserien til Allsvenskan, against the top Hockeyettan teams. Similar competitions exist for the promotion and relegation between the lower leagues.
The J20 SuperElit is the top level of junior hockey in Sweden. The league is currently made up of 20 teams, divided into Norra and Södra groups. The league's champion wins the Anton Cup, the Swedish junior championship, which was first awarded in 1957.
Spearheaded by the efforts of Raoul Le Mat, the national team made its international debut at the 1920 Summer Olympics hockey tournament. Selecting the players for the team was a difficult task. The country's only experienced player at the time was Nisse Molander, who had been living in Germany since 1908 and played hockey for Berliner Schlittschuhclub. It was eventually decided to name Molander to the Olympic team, along with the 10 best bandy players from the cities of Stockholm, Uppsala and Gavle. They received jerseys from the Swedish national soccer team, while the rest of their equipment remained more suited to bandy.
After arriving in Antwerp, the Swedes received proper hockey sticks from the American team as a gesture of generosity towards their compatriot La Mat. Despite their inexperience, Sweden had quite an impressive debut, finishing fourth behind Canada, the United States, and Czechoslovakia. The legendary Winnipeg Falcons, who won gold at the tournament, were so impressed by the Swedish team, they decided to let them score a goal against them. Sweden's goal in the 12-1 defeat was the only one conceded by the Canadians in the competition.
This successful initial foray onto the international scene helped further popularize the new sport in Sweden (bandy was still king at the time). The Swedes hosted the 1921 European Championship, winning the gold medal after defeating their only opponent, the Czechoslovaks, 7-4. Sweden later finished first at the European Championships in 1923 and 1932.
The team is referred to as the Tre Kronor, which means "Three Crowns" and refers to the three crowns on the team jersey. The three crowns represent the lesser national coat of arms of the Kingdom of Sweden and the national emblem. The first time the symbol was used on the national team's jersey was on February 12, 1938, during the World Championships in Prague. Sweden is considered a member of the "Big Six" international teams.
To date, Sweden has won gold at the World Championships in 1953, 1957, 1962, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1998, 2006, and 2013, and won the Olympics in 1994 and 2006. They clinched Olympic gold in 1994 with a scintillating 3-2 victory over Canada in the final. Magnus Svensson tied the score with less than two minutes remaining and Peter Forsberg scoring the winning goal in a shootout. In 2006, they became the first, and so far only, team to win both the Olympic and WC tournaments in the same calendar year, by winning the 2006 Winter Olympics in a thrilling final against Finland by 3–2, and the 2006 World Championships by beating Czech Republic in the final, 4–0. In 2013 the team was the first team to win the World Championships at home since the Soviet Union in 1986.
During the 1973-74 NHL season, Borje Salming and Inge Hammarstrom excelled for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Salming was one of the first European players to make an impact in the National Hockey League (NHL), paving the way for future generations of players. In 1996 he became the first player born and trained in Sweden to be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
A list of some of the best Swedish players of all-time would include: Christer Abrahamsson, Thommy Abrahamsson, Tommy Albelin, Daniel Alfredsson, Mikael Andersson, Thommie Bergman, Jonas Bergqvist, Kristina Bergstrand, Lars Bjorn, Gert Blome, Per-Olov Brasar, Sigurd Broms, Arne Carlsson, Ulf Dahlen, Pelle Eklund, Anders Eldebrink, Roland Eriksson, Thomas Eriksson, Jan Erixon, Peter Forsberg, Thomas Gradin, Bengt-Ake Gustafsson, Lennart Haggroth, Inge Hammarstrom, Bent Hansen, Anders Hedberg, Goran Hogosta, Leif Holmqvist, Calle Johansson, Stig-Goran Johansson, Sven Johansson, Tomas Jonsson, Anders Kallur, Stefan Karlsson, Nicklas Kronwall, Dan Labraaten, Vilgot Larsson, Nicklas Lidstrom, Hans Lindberg, Pelle Lindberg, Peter Lindmark, Erling Lindstrom, Hakan Loob Tord Lundstrom, Henrik Lundqvist, Lars-Erik Lundvall, Eilert Maatta, Markus Naslund, Mats Naslund, Kent Nilsson, Lars-Goran Nilsson, Nils Nilsson, Ulf Nilsson, Bert-Ola Nordlander, Holger Nurmela, Michael Nylander, Hans Oberg, Mattias Ohlund, Fredrik Olausson, Christer Olsson, Stig Ostling, Bjorn Palmqvist, Stefan Persson, Ronald Pettersson, Mikael Renberg, Thomas Rundqvist, Borje Salming, Tommy Salo, Kjell Samuelsson, Tommy Samuelsson, Ulf Samuelsson, Tomas Sandstrom, Lars-Erik Sjoberg, Tommy Soderstrom, Thomas Steen, Ulf Sterner, Roland Stoltz, Roland Stolz, Mats Sundin, Hans Svedberg, Lennart Svedberg, Kjell Svensson, Magnus Svensson, Sven Thunman, Mats Waltin , Hakan Wickberg, and Henrik Zetterberg.
The women's national team first appeared on the international scene in 1987, playing in the World Women's Hockey Tournament. They competed in all five IIHF European Women Championships between 1989 and 1996, winning the gold medal once and the silver medal four times. Sweden has participated in the IIHF World Women's Championships since 1990, winning the bronze medal in 2005 and 2007. They have been present at all five Olympic tournaments staged since 1998, winning the bronze medal in 2002 and the silver medal in 2006. The women's U18 national team has played in the IIHF World Women's U18 Championships since 2008, winning the bronze medal five times.
The junior national team first participated in the IIHF World U20 Championships in 1974. At the world juniors, Sweden has won the gold medal twice, in 1981 and 2012. They have also won 10 silver and six bronze medals at the event.