Little preparation time for Sweden

Stephen Brun
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SUMMERSIDE - Team Sweden will have to do a lot with little preparation at this World Junior 'A' Hockey Challenge.
The team only had its first meeting as a group on Friday night before traveling almost 22 hours and arriving in Summerside on Saturday night.
"We don't have lots of time because the clubs in Sweden need the players for every game, every practice, so we need to make things nice and quick," said team manager Jonas Fransson. "We gave them very short notice to get here. That's our problem."
Despite the short interval - the team had a 20-minute skate Saturday night, followed by a one-hour practice Sunday morning before its first game Monday - Fransson wasn't concerned that the team could bond quickly.
"Most of the guys were on the same team when we played the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament in the Czech Republic," said Fransson. "Unfortunately, we've had some bad injuries before coming here because most of these guys played Thursday night and some even played Friday night.
"But these guys are used to travelling a lot inside and outside Sweden. It's not that bad. Being able to sleep here for one or two nights, it's OK."
Hockey programs have been a success story in Sweden over the past several years, which includes a gold medal win at the last Winter Olympics.
Fransson said the county's hockey federation decided to make sweeping changes with its developmental programs about six years ago to allow teams to maintain the Swedish style while learning a few tricks from North American players.
"It's still the Swedish style of playing, but maybe Canadians play a little bit better in front of their own goal and a little bit tougher, so that's what we would like to do," said Fransson. "We've never had so many young kids before playing with the older age group, so it seems like we've gained almost two years of time with players making the step into the Elite League with these new programs."
Fransson admits the Swedes have a young team in this 19-and-under tournament, but he likes the team's chances if some of them are able to step up.

Organizations: North American, Elite League

Geographic location: Sweden, SUMMERSIDE, Czech Republic

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