International Ice Hockey Federation

Eriksson Ek learns every day

Eriksson Ek learns every day

Swedish forward has role models

Published 17.05.2017 18:41 GMT+2 | Author John Sanful
Eriksson Ek learns every day
COLOGNE, GERMANY - MAY 14: Sweden's Joel Lundqvist #20 celebrates with Joel Eriksson Ek #22 after scoring a first period goal against Denmark during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Joel Eriksson Ek has quality veterans here in Germany who can teach the young forward how to succeed as a professional hockey player.

So much has been made of Sweden’s next generation here at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. William Nylander has been sublime. Victor Rask has provided timely scoring. Elias Lindholm has been one of Sweden’s go-to players since this tournament started.

Yet, there are other players who will blossom as professional players and members of the Tre Kronor national team in the years to come. 20-year-old, Eriksson Ek is part of Sweden’s future, too. Far from just another number on the roster, Eriksson Ek has contributed and has more than held his own.

Being on the Swedish national team has allowed Eriksson Ek to learn from hockey veterans. He admits to learning a lot from many of the eighteen NHL veterans on the roster about how best to prepare for being a hockey professional.

“Since joining this team, I’ve tried to pick up so many of the small things from the veterans,” Eriksson Ek said of his preparation throughout this tournament. “I tried to follow what they are doing, how they are acting, what is important in getting ready for a game. This experience has been really good for me.”

The addition of Henrik Lundqvist, Nicklas Backstrom and Oscar Lindberg have been important. With these additions and others who have been on the team since the start of the tournament, Eriksson Ek is learning about what it takes as this level to succeed.

“I’m learning more about how to be a pro, how to take faceoffs, and how to move on the ice and play my game every time without letting my emotions get in the way.”

Eriksson Ek represented Sweden at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship where he was one of the best players in that tournament. His six goals and nine points was second in scoring for Sweden as they just fell short of winning a medal. Sweden lost 2-1 to Russia in the bronze medal game. 

“I had a different role in the World Juniors, but here I am trying to mesh in with the team and use my skills to complement other players.” Eriksson Ek said. “Since being named to this team, I have been trying to contribute in ways big and small and do whatever the coaches want from me.”

His role has meant that Eriksson Ek's ice time is averaging a little over thirteen minutes a game. He’s also added a goal and two assists in seven games with a +4. For a first year contributor on an experienced senior men’s national team at the World Championships, these are better than average numbers. 

As for players like Nylander who is leading Sweden with ten points with Rask and Lindholm tied for second with seven each, Eriksson Ek understands that their contributions are going to remain important moving into the round of eight.

"Those are high skill guys with good puck skills and who can skate fast,” Eriksson Ek said of his teammates. If we move the puck fast, we will do well and that is what has to happen now that we are moving into the quarterfinals.” 

The Minnesota Wild drafted Eriksson Ek with the twentieth pick of the first round in 2015. The Wild had him start the season in the NHL with a nine game “tryout” to see what he could do and he scored five points in his first four game in the league. Eventually, the Wild decided to return Eriksson Ek to Sweden where he played out the season.

By all measures including his World Junior performance, Eriksson Ek’s season as above average. He received a call up- or out- from his club Farjestad BK Karlstadt of the Swedish Hockey League to finish the season in Minnesota. In fifteen games, he had three goals and four assists. His play in the postseason against the Blues was eye opening and showed that he can thrive in the close quarters hockey on this side of the pond.

“It is a little bit different because the surfaces are smaller in North America and guys are closer to you all the time and you have to protect the puck more,” Eriksson Ek said of his season. “That is probably the biggest thing I think.”


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