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Chrona and Alnefelt growing bond at Development Camp

The pair of Swedish goaltending prospects have known each other for four years

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

Hugo Alnefelt and Magnus Chrona met each other four years ago through friends while living in Stockholm, Sweden.

"It might have been even longer ago than that," Alnefelt said.

The two became instant friends, the commonality of hockey and goaltending specifically giving them plenty to talk about. That friendship blossomed when they started training with the same coach.

"We understand each other pretty good," Alnefelt said. "We've never played on the same team. I don't think we've ever played against each other either. We've just been friends off the ice."

Their bond on the ice is about to get a whole lot stronger too.

Chrona, a 6-foot-4, 209-pound goaltender who will play at the University of Denver next season, was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the fifth round (152nd overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

Alnefelt, a 6-foot-3, 183-pound netminder with World Juniors experience having backstopped Sweden during the 2019 tournament, was taken in the third round (71st overall) at last week's draft.

"Last year after his draft, I was like, 'Yeah, I'm coming next year as well.' We were just joking about it," Alnefelt said he told Chrona. "Then we thought maybe it could happen. And then it did happen. So we're just super happy."

Both Swedish goalies are participating in this week's Lightning's Development Camp at the Ice Sports Forum. They sit two stalls away from one another inside the Bolts' locker room. They're roommates at a downtown Tampa hotel during the week-long camp.

"It's perfect," Chrona said about the setup. "It's a lot of Swedish being spoken in our room but also a lot of English."

The two are competitive on the ice, pushing each other to perform. Chrona said they bring out the best in each other.

"We put pressure on one another," he said. "But it's good pressure. We make the other player better."

Sometimes making the other player better means a bit of good-natured chirping on the ice.

"We give each other a little bit of crap if someone is not doing his best," Alnefelt admitted.

Chrona is participating in his second development camp with the Lightning. He said competing on the smaller North American ice helped his game noticeably once he returned to Sweden for his season with Skelleftea.

"Back home we have a large rink, so if I play with the smaller rink, then I get a lot faster," Chrona said. "The large rink is so much bigger that I'm pretty much faster every time because I'm used to the smaller rink."

Chrona's experience at development camp is also an asset for his good friend Alnefelt.

"I think it really helps to have someone show you the way, show you where everything is and stuff like that," Alnefelt said. "I think it's really good for me."

FUTURE TEAMMATES: Another couple of players Magnus Chrona will be familiarizing himself with over the next season are forwards Cole Guttman, the Bolts' sixth-round pick (180th overall) at the 2017 Draft, and McKade Webster, a seventh-round selection (213th overall) of the Lightning in 2019.

Guttman just completed his freshman season at the University of Denver, where he put up 14 goals and 26 points in 41 games for the Pioneers. He said he never met Chrona until the start of Tampa Bay's development camp but he's enjoyed getting to know his future collegiate teammate this week.

"It'll be cool to have another Lightning connection on the team," Guttman said. "We'll get the training here and take what we learned here into our next season and I'll see those guys every summer as well."

Denver made it to the NCAA's Frozen Four but lost a 4-3 overtime decision to the University of Massachusetts in the semifinals. Guttman said the Pioneers leaned heavily on younger players in 2018-19, which should help them contend for a NCAA title again this season.

"We had a young team, so the young guys got some more opportunity and stuff, but it was really good," he said. "The coaching staff was awesome there. I'm really happy with how the season with."

STANDING OUT: It's hard to miss Oleg Sosunov at Lightning development camp.

That's because the defenseman stands 6-foot-8 and towers over everybody around him.

But Sosunov is getting noticed for his play on the ice too, and his steady development has the Lightning excited about his potential.

In his first pro season, Sosunov split time between Syracuse in the AHL and Orlando in the ECHL, scoring two goals and recording six points between the two teams. His skating has improved considerably from when the Lightning selected him in the sixth round of the 2016 Draft and he's seen his responsibilities increase too.

"I think with the coaching and the practice time he had this year, we've seen a big improvement just in that aspect of skill-wise and the skating," Lightning general manager and director of player development Stacy Roest said. "Then when he played in the East Coast League, he did well. He played well. Now this year it's going to be important for him to play more minutes and that was kind of our plan right from day one, to use this year as kind of a learning year and I think now you can see he's skating better. Obviously, he's big and strong. Now it's just probably getting more reps on the ice and more ice time."

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