Axelsson goes for double gold

Ice hockey world champion swaps his skates

04.06.2013
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Two times Dick Axelsson: left at the ongoing 2013 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship, right at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship last May. Photos: Thomas Heide, Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images

DRESDEN – Just two weeks after winning the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Stockholm, Swedish forward Dick Axelsson is aiming for another gold at the 2013 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship in Dresden.

“It was an amazing feeling to win the World Championship in my hometown before all these people and in the city I started to play hockey,” the Stockholm native said. “We had a good team, good spirit and played very well in all games.”

“We celebrated a couple of days, it was lovely,” he said. “The Kungsträdgården was so crowded. It was an unbelievable feeling with so many people. It’s definitely my career highlight.”

For the 191 cm tall forward it was the first time he played in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Although he was drafted in the second round by the Detroit Red Wings, he never played in an U18 or U20 World Championship.

After going through the junior system of Huddinge IK, a club in a Stockholm suburb, he debuted in the second-tier men’s league as a 19-year-old and one year later with Djurgården Stockholm at the top level in the Elitserien.

Although he had been playing exhibition games with the national ice hockey team for five years he didn’t make a World Championship squad prior to 2013.

When IIHF.com interviewed him last year at the inline worlds, he said he wanted to use inline hockey to improve his skills in areas like stickhandling.

“I’m not that good,” he said one year ago with a smile about the reason why he hadn’t yet earned a roster spot for the ice hockey worlds. “but I work on it every day. I hope I’ll make the team at some point, but there are many good players in Sweden, so it’s hard.”

But 2013 was his year. The 26-year-old played in eight games and contributed three assists en route to gold.

While it was a premiere for Axelsson in ice hockey, he’s more experienced at the top level in inline hockey. In Dresden he plays his fifth IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship and so far he has taken home two gold medals and a bronze.

The Inline Worlds started as well for Axelsson as the Ice Hockey World Championship ended – with a victory. Inline hockey’s Tre Kronor defeated host nation and last year’s silver medallist Germany 7-1 to impressively show its ambitions in Dresden, but the Swedes suffered a 7-4 loss against archrival Finland the next day.

The team captain is positive that his team can get back to the top after the disappointing seventh-place finish one year ago.

“I think we’re better prepared. Many of us played more inline hockey back home before the World Championship,” Axelsson said, although he doesn’t include himself since there was little time between the two World Championships.

“For me the game against Germany was my second game. I just played in an exhibition game two days earlier against Slavia Prague on our way to Dresden.”

In the last preliminary-round game against the Czech Republic the Swedes will battle for their berth in the semi-finals.

“It’s going to be tough. The other teams here are good and we have to step up our game all the time and play our best hockey,” Axelsson said.

If the Swedes beat the Czechs, they will have a better seeding in the quarter-finals in their attempt to win a medal. For Axelsson that could also mean a second gold medal game just 20 days after winning the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in the final against Switzerland.

With double gold Axelsson could write history.

“I don’t know if a player has won both in one season. But hopefully I’ll do it,” Axelsson said. “That’s the plan.”

MARTIN MERK
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