By Morgan Frawley
Day 2 of our Sweden trip brought a new city, hockey and Henrik Lundqvist , but we'll get to him a bit later on.
After waking up early - though I was well-rested after going to bed at 10 last night - we ate breakfast at the hotel and took the bus to Stockholm's train station for an 8:25 ride to Gothenberg on Sweden's west coast.
The good night's sleep helped me stay awake on the three-hour trip Gothenburg, and I'm glad it did because we got to see a lot of Sweden's countryside, which was filled with forest and water, both of which were great sights. Despite the three hours, the trip didn't feel long at all as I spent it listening to music and talking with friends. It also allowed me the chance to hear Swedes talking in Swedish, as other passengers around us were locals and the conductor had various announcements throughout the trip.
We learned quickly that Gothenburg is a lot cooler than Stockholm, at least on this day, as we were greeted with winds and overcast skies, much different than the low 70s we encountered on Monday.
After a quick stop at the hotel, we ventured out for lunch at an Italian restaurant that had it's entire menu in Swedish. For the first time, we felt there was a language barrier because our waiters didn't speak English well, but we got through it.
Then it was onto Frolundaborg, the ice rink used by the Frolunda Indians of the Swedish Elite League. We were given a tour of the building and got to see various locker rooms, including their top two junior teams as well as the pro squad that won the SEL title last spring and is captained by Henrik's brother, Joel. Their room even had hot tubs and saunas. We need to get them in North Rockland.
We watched the Under-16 team practice and the thing that stood out to me was the team's concentration. They did not lose their focus for a second when we walked in, and I know if another team walked in on our practice, we'd get distracted. Just ask our coaches.
|Morgan and Henrik Lundqvist. Photo from Morgan Frawley |
After the practice we were brought into a room downstairs and told to hang tight, that the staff was working on something. I kind of had a feeling something big would happen, and was hoping it would be Henrik. I mean he was just vacationing in Italy and lives in Sweden and his brother is the captain. The chances were good - or at least that's what I told myself.
Then my hopes became a reality as No. 30 walked into the room and greeted us with a big smile. He spoke a bit about our equipment drive and about the donation he was making with the National Hockey League Players Association. Then we had the chance to take a team photo with him and I was lucky enough get right next to him. I hope he didn't notice me shaking the whole time. I fought the urge to take out my phone and ask for a photo because I thought it would remove me from the moment. Luckily I didn't have to, as a teammate took my photo with him.
He's very well-spoken. Hearing him talk - I'm still speechless.
Tomorrow we face the Frolunda Under-14 team and I'm hoping it's a competitive game. These guys seem like they mean business, but I'm hoping both sides just have fun and it goes smoothly. I mean, we are eating dinner as a group together.
I'm excited to face players from a different country and curious what that experience will be like, hearing opponents talking in a different language as they play the puck. It will certainly be like nothing I've ever experienced before.