Maestro Lasch
by Risto Pakarinen|03 FEB 2019
Ryan Lasch celebrates a goal for Frolunda with his teammate Patrik Carlsson.
photo: Frolunda Gothenburg / Champions Hockey League
Ryan Lasch has been tearing apart the Champions Hockey League this season. He’s scored 21 points in 12 games as his Frolunda Gothenburg has cruised to a 9-2-1 record. On the eve of the final, Lasch’s lead over his teammate Chay Genoway is six points, and knowing Lasch’s ability to step up in big games, he will undoubtedly walk away with the scoring title this season again. 

In 2016, he won the CHL title with Frolunda, bagged the scoring title, and was voted tournament MVP, and in 2017, he scored the championship-clinching goal for his Bern in Switzerland’s National League before moving back to Sweden.

“I’ve scored some big goals, like [the two mentioned] and for me to score, I have to go to the net. I don’t have an overbearing shot so instead, I have to read the play, anticipate where the puck is going to go and jump on a loose puck or a rebound,” he says.

“I get pretty excited when I see the puck go in, scoring a goal is awesome,” says Lasch, who’s celebrated a goal 125 times in his 412 games in the Finnish, Swedish, and Swiss leagues since joined Sodertalje straight out of college in 2010. 

But if Lasch gets “pretty excited” when he scores a goal, the feeling of setting up a teammate in a scoring chance can sometimes even outdo that feeling, he says. 

“I’m more of a set up guy. Of course I get excited when I score, but setting up my teammates can be more rewarding,” he says. 

And it’s not because getting an assist were a rare treat for Lasch. On the contrary, in his 412 European games, he’s picked up 228 assists, and in this season’s CHL, seventeen of his 21 points are assists. 

The swift-footed winger may be short in height but he’s tall in stature. When the puck is on his stick, the opposing teams do pay attention. 

Even if Lasch may not be the centre of attention as a goal scorer, he is the one who calls the shots. 

“When I have the puck, I’m in charge. I’m the one directing the plays and to me that’s a big responsibility. I like that, and I like to see my buddies happy when they score,” he says. 

Interestingly, Lasch does his play-making from a winger position which, while not unheard of, has up until recently been unusual. Most of the famous playmakers we think of have been centers. 

“I don’t think my personality that dictates that, it’s just how my game’s developed. Hockey’s evolved, too, and many wingers now like to switch to their off-wing to get that one-timer set up but I like to stay on my strong side so that I have the game in front of me,” he says. 

When asked, Lasch mentions the 2016 Swedish final as a set-up highlight. Playing on line with Artturi Lehkonen, now with the Montreal Canadiens, Lasch assisted Lehkonen’s two goals in the championship clinching game against Skelleftea, as Frolunda jumped to a 3-0 lead early on. (Lasch also scored an important 5-3 goal to extend Froluda’s lead to two goals, but he didn’t say anything about that). 

“Lehkonen and I connected on a lot of goals during that playoff run,” he says, matter-of-factly. 

But now his focus is in the future, and most immediately, in his second CHL final, now in front of a sell-out crowd in Scandinavium. 

“I love the Champions Hockey League, it’s one of my favourite things. We get to play against top teams in other leagues, which we don’t normally do, and with that comes a responsibility. It’s a showcase for the team and myself, it’s exciting,” says Lasch, who once represented the United States, at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

Frolunda has been a CHL force in recent years, having reached the final for the fourth time in the last five years – and won two of the three finals it’s played in. The organization is also famous for its ability to bring up new talent from its academy, players such as Lehkonen, Rasmus Dahlin, and Andreas Johnsson. 

“I’ve never seen anything like this organization, as far as how they develop and treat their young players. They put so much effort in trying to get the kids to advance to the next level,” Lasch says. 

But the kids also need torchbearers, and with three seasons in the club under his belt, the 32-year-old California native is one the youngsters can look up to, although, he deflects that off with the same ease he deflects pucks into the net. 

“When the kids see the work [captain] Joel Lundqvist puts in at the gym and on the ice, that really pushed them forward. I come here with a little different perspective, not being Swedish, but of course I show them little tricks – but they’re already better than me,” he says with a laugh. 

Surely all players on the Frolunda team know that when the puck is on Lasch’s stick, all they have to do, is get open. 

And then, a goal. 

Orchestrated by the maestro.