BRATISLAVA – 21-year-old Dick Axelsson is one of the most promising Swedish forwards. Not only did he score 12 goals and 13 assists for Djurgarden Stockholm last season in the Swedish Elitserien but he also signed with Stanley Cup winner Detroit. However, when watching him play and talking to him, one would never guess that he is only at the start of his career. He opened the tournament with an assist and a plus-minus of +2 in a 5-0 victory against host Slovakia.
How did you get involved with inline hockey?
A lot of my friends play inline and we put together a team. I have been involved for two years now and enjoy it very much. Our team also plays in the highest league in Sweden every summer.
Describe the status of inline hockey in your country.
The status of inline is unfortunately not very high. A good example would be that when we played in the final of the inline league last year, there were 100 people in the stands. It’s as close as you can get to a “beer league”, but we all enjoy it very much!
How would you compare ice hockey to inline hockey?
There are a lot more stoppages in play, which gives players a welcome rest. This game is a hockey player’s dream! Especially for the kind of player that I represent – charging the net all the time! There are no hits so the game is much more straightforward and getting to, and staying in front, of the net is easier.
What is the biggest challenge facing inline hockey in Sweden in the future?
Inline hockey’s status may be low, but very stable. We continuously recruit new players. When some retire, there are always new faces to take their place. Inline is a perfect surrogate to ice hockey, as most of the inline league players in Sweden play ice hockey as their number one sport.
What are your impressions of Bratislava?
Bratislava is a great town! The people are very friendly here. I had the possibility to visit downtown yesterday and it is beautiful. I also need to comment on the weather – I enjoy high temperatures and sun, and we have certainly had our fair share of both of those! (Temperature in Bratislava on Sunday was 34°C with clear blue sky)
Wonder what Dick Axelsson will think about the weather in Detroit.