INGOLSTADT – Swedish forward Dick Axelsson is one of the ice hockey pros playing in the 2012 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship. And he’s been doing quite well so far together with his partner up front, Daniel Wessner.
Both players have scored four goals each so far, as did linemate Marcus Nilsson. That makes 12 out of 22 Swedish goals that were scored by this trio.
“It’s great to be back. Inline hockey is a very fun sport. It’s similar to ice hockey and a good summer sport,” said Axelsson, who returned to the team after missing last year’s event.
Boosted by the 25-year-old, Sweden hopes to get back on track after missing out a medal for the first time in nine years in 2011.
In his three previous participations, Axelsson took home two gold medals and a bronze.
“We want to win, that’s why we’re here,” said Axelsson, echoing many of his teammates. “We will play as hard as we can to win.”
The tall forward arrived in Ingolstadt after a tough first year with his new club MODO Örnsköldsvik. The second-round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings had spent most of the last three years with Färjestad Karlstad before joining MODO.
“It was a disappointing season for me,” Axelsson said. “I was injured two times and played only 36 games. It was tough, but there’s a new season coming next.”
Axelsson is also a national team player in ice hockey where he has represented his country in 26 games, most recently in the preparation camp before the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship on home ice. But until now he has never made it to a World Championship or Olympic Games.
“I’m not that good,” he replies with a smile, “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.”
Working on his skills is also one reason, apart from the fun and winning component, why he’s here. He hopes that playing inline hockey at this level will help his development as a player.
“I hope it will make me a better player. I try to work on a lot of things here like stickhandling,” he said.
But first comes the next game. Tre Kronor will play Slovenia this afternoon in the quarter-finals. Last year the Swedes had the same opponent and won 6-2 after trailing 2-0, but lost the two following games and ending up in fourth place.
This time the Swedes want to continue their tradition of medalling at the InLine Hockey World Championship.
After the preliminary-round play, the odds are on a USA-Sweden final, although many things can happen in the two upcoming days as the many tight games in the first three days have shown.
And Axelsson has different ideas anyway.
“I hope to play in the final against Germany, that would be fun,” he said in an allusion to the atmospheric crowd in Ingolstadt.