Farjestad ends decade-long drought
by Risto Pakarinen|13 MAY 2022
The Farjestad Karlstad players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Swedish Hockey League in Game 7 against Lulea.
photo: Fredrik Sundvall / FotoINorr
At the end of an up-and-down season, in the third period of an up-and-down Game 7, Farjestad Karlstad found a way to break through Lulea’s defence to end the season at the highest of highs: hoisting the championship trophy.

Farjestad’s Per Aslund was named winner of the Stefan Liv Memorial Award, given to the playoffs MVP. Aslund led the league in playoff scoring with five goals and 18 points in 19 games. 

It was the Karlstad team’s tenth Swedish title, and the first since 2011 – an eternity for a team that won four titles in the first decade of the century. 

“I can’t believe this,” said Farjestad captain Linus Johansson with tears of joy running down his cheeks. Johansson’s own career is a reflection of the team he now captained to the title, a story of perseverance in itself. As a 22-year-old he was languishing in Sweden’s third-tier league, took a left turn to Norway for a year, returned to the Swedish second-tier league before signing with Djurgarden. In February, he played for Sweden in the Olympics. 

Farjestad was one of the favourites in pre-season analyses, but never got on a roll in the early rounds of the regular season. In mid-November, the club fired their GM Peter Jakobsson and found a successor already sitting on their board. Former Tre Kronor and Farjestad captain Rickard Wallin took over the team and set his sights on bringing the trophy back to Karlstad. 

In mid-February, Wallin fired head coach Johan Pennerborn and brought in Tomas Mitell, who had been assistant coach at the Chicago Blackhawks when the season began. At that point, Farjestad was a point behind Orebro, chasing a spot in the Top-6, and a direct quarter-final berth. 

“Everybody just figured out what to do, that we shouldn’t expect someone else to step up, the whole team just took it up a notch,” Johansson said. 

Farjestad’s route to their tenth title was no walk in the park. In the quarter-final, they faced Skelleftea, the third-seed team. The series went to six games, but in Game 6 Farjestad delivered a knockout punch and clinched their semi-final berth with a 5-0 shutout win.

In the semi-final, the green-and-white team faced Rogle Angelholm, the regular-season winner, and again, won the series in six games. In Game 6, Rogle rallied back from a two-goal deficit with three minutes to go, but Farjestad tied it up thirty seconds later and in OT captain Johansson scored the winner. 

“We’ve had setbacks along the way but we’ve really come together as a team, and took steps forward. We played a great series in the quarter-final against Skelleftea, and again in the semi-final against Rogle,” said Aslund.

And in the final, Farjestad took on Lulea, the regular season runner-up. And that series went to seven games and they never broke. In Game 4, with Lulea looking to take a 3-1 lead, Farjestad got an OT goal from Finnish defenceman Jesse Virtanen. In Game 7, with ten minutes to go in the third period, Virtanen scored again, his third in the playoffs. 

Goaltender Dominik Furch recorded three shutouts among his twelve wins en route to the championship, the third one in Game 7. 

“It was a tough season, I came here a little bit late, in November, and it took me a while to get settled, but the whole team stepped up during the playoffs,” he added. 

“It’s a dream to finish the final with a shutout in Game 7, but this is the only thing that matters,” he told the TV reporter, waving the gold medal in his hand, a golden helmet on his head.

The look of a champion.