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UM's Hagelin feels at 'home' at JLA

by Michael Caples / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – A Swedish hockey player skating at Joe Louis Arena is nothing new. The Red Wings’ roster has been comprised of many Swedes during the last two decades, including six this season.

However, there is another Sweden-born player, who hopes to make a name for himself at Joe Louis Arena this weekend. And he doesn’t wear a Wings uniform.

Carl Hagelin, one of the University of Michigan’s senior captains, was born and raised in Sodertalje, Sweden.

The 22-year-old forward, along with his brother, Bobbie, used to attend hockey camps in Michigan. And Hagelin wasn’t ashamed to admit that his brother got more attention than he did.

“It started out with my dad, he went to Western Michigan (University) when he was younger – he didn’t play hockey or anything – he just went there,” Hagelin said. “We have some relatives in this area, and it started out with me going to coach’s hockey camps in the summer. My brother was a good player, so I was just there for fun.”

But during those camps, Hagelin managed to separate himself from his older brother enough to start attracting attention from U.S. colleges.

“Two years before college, the Bemidji State coach called me up, talked about college hockey in general, all the good things about it,” he said. “I hadn’t signed a contract before that, so my dad said that I should be excited to see if other teams were interested. I came over to showcase myself before college and (Michigan associate head coach) Mel Pearson was there and watched me play, and then he offered me a scholarship.”

Pearson’s decision has paid off for the Wolverines. Last season, Hagelin was named to the CCHA All-Tournament team, contributing four assists during UM’s tourney march to the Mason Cup. This season, he was named a finalist for the CCHA Player of the Year, and the Hobey Baker – given to college hockey’s top player. The Wolverines’ co-captain was fourth in the CCHA in scoring with 37 points. He was also named the top defensive forward at the CCHA Awards Show this week at Detroit’s Fox Theatre.

Hagelin and the Wolverines will take on Western Michigan in a CCHA semifinal at 8 p.m. EDT Friday. Notre Dame will face off against Miami (Ohio) in the day's first semi at 4:30 p.m.

Hagelin, who was six-round draft pick of the New York Rangers in 2007, has worked just as hard in the classroom as he has on the ice. He was the Wolverines’ representative for the CCHA scholar-athlete team, and was named to the Academic All-Big Ten team the last two years. Being able to continue his education was one of the reasons Hagelin decided to make the move to the U.S.

“There’s no college hockey back home,” Hagelin said. “You go pro when you’re 17 or 18, so it’s a job over there. You don’t do anything else during the day, you just become a straight professional hockey player, and it’s tough, once you’re done with that, it’s tough to start studying again, so I think I made the right decision.”

Despite confessing to being a Peter Forsberg fan when he was growing up, Hagelin said he has switched his allegiance to the Red Wings since arriving in Ann Arbor. Standing outside the Wings’ locker room, Hagelin acknowledged his surroundings when talking about his new favorite team.

“I actually liked Peter Forsberg more when he played for the Avalanche, but since I came here, it’s been Detroit all the way,” he said. “You look at this wall right here, you see a lot of Swedish guys on here, and I know Mikael Samuelsson. I know he got traded, but during my first year, I talked to him every once in a while.

“The last few years I’ve been to a few games. I know Jonathan Ericsson a bit, and his girlfriend. She’s from Sodertalje and he played for Sodertalje with my brother, so right now for sure they’re my favorite team.”

Hagelin said he doesn’t get to see Ericsson as much as he would like to, due to the busy schedules of both players. He also knows Detroit prospect Joakim Andersson.

“I played with Andersson in the World Juniors,” Hagelin said. “I haven’t talked to him much lately either. He’s a good guy though. Hopefully he can get a chance here in the next few years.”

Right now, Hagelin is focused on helping UM compete for another league tournament title, and possibly a national championship. And playing at Joe Louis Arena is an exciting time because of what’s at-stake.

“It’s always fun,” he said. “We’ve had some good success down here since I was a freshman. This is where you win championships, you only come down here for the big games, and to win championships, so it’s a great feeling.”

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