STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - Ericsson Globe in Stockholm is the home of the Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning this week as they take part in the 2019 NHL Global Series in Sweden.
The arena, heralded as the world's largest spherical building, also plays host to the Swedish national hockey team as well as many of the large-scale events and concerts that come to the Swedish capital.
"This is the biggest arena in Sweden," defenseman Rasmus Dahlin said. "It's going to be a dream to play here. I've never played here. …If you're from Sweden, you want to play here if you play hockey."
While the Sabres have six Swedish players on their roster for the Global Series, their experience playing inside Ericsson Globe is actually quite limited.
"Even though you might play on Stockholm's team, you don't play here," goaltender Linus Ullmark explained. "You might play right next to it. It will definitely be a special feeling because the last time I was here during a hockey game, I was probably 8 or 9. It was for a national team game."
Defenseman Lawrence Pilut played many games at Hovet, the arena located next door, but has great respect for what Globen means to Swedish hockey.
"I think it's a very special place. It's a special atmosphere having that many people out there," he said. "It's probably the biggest arena in hockey that we have in Sweden. That says a lot about it."
Ericsson Globe opened its doors in 1989 and seats about 13,850 fans for hockey. On first glance, the bright red seats and façade are visually striking. Dahlin's eyes lit up when talking about stepping onto the ice for the first time.
"Wow, it's a big arena. It's nice with all of the red seats and everything's red," he said. "It's a beautiful building."
Forward Victor Olofsson said he played just one game here when he was with the Swedish club Frolunda. He's excited for the opportunity to have some personal fans cheer him on.
"Honestly, what I'm looking forward to most is to just meet my family and friends," he said. "They're coming down this weekend so that's going to be the highlight of the week for sure."
Defenseman Brandon Montour isn't Swedish, but he understands what his teammates who are back in their home country must be feeling. When he was traded to Buffalo from Anaheim last season, his family only needed to make the short drive from Ontario to watch him play.
"You don't get that experience too often in your career," he said. "Any time you get to play close to home or close to family and friends, where they get to come and visit and watch a couple of hockey games, it's nice."
Video: AFTER PRACTICE: Krueger
Sabres coach Ralph Krueger has a ton of international coaching experience on his resume, most extensively as the former head coach of the Swiss national team, and he has made many trips to Stockholm for games.
"Believe it or not, one of my favorite memories was just after I retired from the national team," he said. "It was two years later. I was sitting here in this building when Sweden won the World Championship [in 2013]. It was one of the first local victories in 20 years. But Switzerland won the silver, which, it was a program that I was a part of for a long time.
"So I actually wasn't on the bench when that happened, but I definitely had tears in my eyes in the stands to see them win a silver medal.
"For the program and Switzerland to go to another level and get the respect that it's getting so that the players are getting better shots in the National Hockey League, they're getting drafted higher - it all starts on the international platform. It all starts at the World Championship so that would be a recent memory that was really special for me right here in the Globen."
Video: SABRES IN :50
Here's how the team lined up:
68 Victor Olofsson - 9 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 22 Johan Larsson - 21 Kyle Okposo
13 Jimmy Vesey / 71 Evan Rodrigues - 37 Casey Mittelstadt - 43 Conor Sheary
53 Jeff Skinner - 90 Marcus Johansson - 17 Vladimir Sobotka
19 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
26 Rasmus Dahlin - 62 Brandon Montour
10 Henri Jokiharju - 33 Colin Miller
58 John Gilmour - 24 Lawrence Pilut
40 Carter Hutton
35 Linus Ullmark
Buffalo and Tampa will take part in a pair of open practices tomorrow afternoon at Globen, where Swedish fans will get their first taste of NHL hockey before this weekend's games.
The first game of the series will take place on Friday at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN and WGR 550. Rick Jeanneret and Rob Ray will call the action on the radio. Stop by (716) Food and Sport to watch them in action.
Saturday's game will start at 1 p.m. on MSG and WGR with the Buick Game Night pregame show kicking off at 12:30 on MSG.