About the League
Swedish MODO had one of the surprise performances at Junior Club World Cup this past August. The team from a small town of Ornskoldsvik didn’t win a single game in round robin but went on to play in the final where they lost in a hard-fought game to reigning Kharlamov Cup champions Krasnaya Armiya Moscow.
Two years ago when the tournament was also hosted in Sverdlovsk Region, another Swedish team hoisted the cup – Djurgårdens. MODO general manager Michael Sundlöv spoke about Swedish junior hockey and his team’s experience in Russia.
- Michael, how important is Junior Club World Cup for junior Swedish players and coaches?
- Very important. Junior Club World Cup gave us the opportunity to get a feel of international hockey. It was a huge experience for our players and coaches. They learned a lot and improved.
- What did MODO players and coaches said after the Junior Club World Cup?
- They spoke a lot about the high level of organization and hockey itself, which is especially true for Junior Hockey League teams. The pace of game is unreally high and you have to pay for every mistake you make. It reminds me of young Swedish players who try to make a name for themselves playing for men’s teams back home in Sweden. It was a great experience for our young and talented players to get a feel of what it’s like to play at that level. Now they understand what to expect when they make the next step. We also really like the organization, arenas, dressing-rooms, rink staff and food.
- Djurgårdens won Junior Club World Cup two years ago and this year MODO made it to the final. Why do Swedish team have successful runs at Junior Club World Cup?
- Our players follow their coaches’ instructions, they’re well-organized, taught well tactically and pay attention to defense. We had a young team but our players adjusted quick enough to international hockey. That’s where our results come from.
- How popular is junior hockey in Sweden?
- Junior hockey is popular at certain areas in Sweden – it’s popular on the Internet, forums and magazines. You can watch junior hockey games on YouTube. As for attendance, it’s not very high. Teams are working on it because it’s a very interesting product. It’s really a lot of fun to watch junior hockey. World Juniors draws a solid TV audience every Christmas and New Year’s.
- How different is junior hockey from professional hockey in Sweden?
- I think the difference is more or less the same in every country. Junior hockey means high pace and lots of mistakes. Professional teams are more organized, they play better, players are more physical, they stickhandle better and have a lot more thought to their game.
- Have you had the chance to watch Junior Club World Cup games to get an opinion about the level of the tournament?
- I watched most of MODO games and the skill was at a high level in every game I watched. I liked the teamplay and individual skill of many players. Again, it was a truly priceless experience for our guys.
- MODO is based in Ornskoldsvik, which has a population of about 30,000 people. This doesn’t stop you from producing superstars like Peter Forsberg, the Sedin twins and many others on a regular basis. What is your secret?
- If we had any specific recipe for producing stars, we would win national championship title every year and all international tournaments.
- What can you say to young Swedish players who will compete at Junior Club World Cup in the future?
- I can tell them this, if you have the chance to compete at the tournament – take it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a coach or player. I would recommend Junior Club World Cup to all hockey fans. What I saw is significantly different from the level of hockey in Swedish junior league. Junior Club World Cup is an opportunity for young players to get to a new level and find a new dimension of their skill for successful future in sports.