|Photo from the Twitter page of former Farjestad BK and WBS Penguins forward Devin DiDiomete.|
The AHL All-Stars take on Farjestad BK, a team from the Swedish Hockey League's highest level (SHL) tonight at 6:30 p.m. EST. at the Mile One Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland in northeast Canada.
It is the first time that a team from Sweden has competed against a team from North America and while typical AHL All-Star games usually aren't known for their defense or physical play (and NHL ones for that matter), tonight's game will likely resemble, at least closely, an actual competitive hockey game between two teams that want to win for the pride of being an athlete and a competitor.
That sentiment was mimicked by Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler, who along with Grand Rapids head coach Jeff Blashill, will coach the AHL All-Stars against Farjestad. Zettler's quote comes from the AHL's press release on the event.
“It’s a great opportunity for these kids to showcase their talents, but the biggest thing we want is to go in thinking that this is a competitive game,” said Zettler. “It’s not a typical All-Star game where guys are doing a lot of fancy one-on-one skill stuff. We hope to see some of that, but we hope to see it within the team game.”
That is reason enough for you to be intrigued to watch tonight's game, which will be aired live on numerous television networks across North America. A list of those providing both live coverage and re-airing of the game was provided here on the AHL's official website.
After the jump, a look at the story of the 16-year-old defenseman from Farjestad BK that really impressed me in last night's skills competition, Oliver Kylington, with some insights from a very helpful and passionate FBK fan.
Also, I chatted with former WBS Penguins forward Chad Kolarik about today's All-Star Game and about the AHL's opponent, who Kolarik has played against this season as a member of Linkoping (SHL). A look at three players from Farjestad Kolarik said to keep an eye on besides the 16-year-old Kylington.
Kylington was impressive at the skills competition last night, winning a one-on-one puck control relay and looking good with a goal in the breakaway relay. Hard to believe he's only 16 years old, the youngest player Farjestad BK has ever had. Here's some background on Kylington I was sent from an avid Farjestad fan, who pointed to some articles about the young talent after following Highland Park Hockey's coverage of the skills competition last night from Sweden:
Kylington's first SHL goal is also impressive as he got the puck from behind his own net, skated coast to coast and got a shot in between the keepers arm and body and into the net. A bit of miss from the opposing goal, but still a record breaking moment for Kylington, who was not only as seen in this video."He came to Färjestad for this season and was supposed to play in the J20 team for the club. After Färjestad had some injuries in the beginning of the season, he actually got a shot at the Swedish highest league, SHL. He debuted on 9/28/13 and at the age of 16 years, four months and nine days become the youngest ever goal scorer in the league in his debut. He was supposed to play about 5 mins/game to take some pressure of the other the defenders under the time of the injuries, but he quickly got up to average about 20 mins/game early on. He was rumored to have an option saying that if he played 12 games with average of 5 mins/game or more he would get a contract for the first team. The injured players starting coming back so he did not get the 12 games right off the bat, but did so a bit later on in the season. He’s now a regular defender on the team and signed a contract for the first team for this and the next season, and often starts game in the starting lineup. His skills are improving and so is his confidence, and I don’t think it will be long before he becomes a high-ranking, goal-scoring defender."
Speaking of goal scoring in the SHL, a former WBS Penguins forward leads the entire league with 27 goals and his 45 points are good for 5th best overall. That's right, it's Chad Kolarik. Kolarik is playing with Linkoping (LHC) and it appears he has made the transition overseas look easy.
I was fortunate enough to catch up Kolarik to talk about this year's AHL All-Star game and get a few insights into the AHL's opponent, since Kolarik has played against Farjestad five times this season and recently too in a 4-2 win for Kolarik and LHC over Farjestad last Thursday, February 6th.
"They're a very fast and surprisingly physical team," Kolarik said of Farjestad, who has been a .500 team in the SHL this season and currently sits 8th out 12 teams in the league.
As for players to watch from FBK, Kolarik mentioned two forwards and a defenseman.
"Two really good players in this league. Milan Gulas. Joakim Hilding."
The two forwards have led the way offensively for FBK this season. Hilding leads the team with 35 points (14G-21A) in 49 games, while Gulas is averaging a point per game with 21 points (10G-11A) in 21 games.
As for defenseman, Kolarik gave high-praises to the guy who set a new AHL record in the hardest shot competition last night with a 104.6 mph shot.
"On defense they have Magnus Nygren, probably top three offensive defenseman in the league."
Nygren's stats back up Kolarik's statement. In 22 games, Nygren has 10 goals to go along with five assists. Nygren has been paired on defense with the 16-year-old Oliver Kylington, so that will be an interesting tandem to see on the ice tonight.
As for how the game will play out tonight, Kolarik had this to say about the style of play in Sweden:
"Swedish league is very defensive and lots of trapping. Hopefully FBK stays away from that in the All Star Game."So there you have it. The puck drop is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. EST and will be aired live and re-aired later by several television networks that the AHL posted here. If you can't watch and want to hear how Brian Gibbons is performing in the AHL All-Star Game, you can follow along on Twitter (@H_P_Hockey). I'll try to post up some sort of a recap after the game, and might watch a second time to really let it soak in.