Luleå and Skellefteå lead the Elitserien as the league heads into the half-way point of the season.
League leaders Luleå lost ground the week of Nov. 15-21, losing twice in four days. Second-place Skellefteå took advantage, moving to within two points of first place with a 4-1 win over defending league champions HV 71 on Nov. 18.
Luleå has 43 points in 41 games from 14 wins and seven losses. Färjestad is third with 36 points while newcomers AIK continue to surprise opponents, sitting in fourth place with 35 points. AIK jumped up two places after HV 71 and Linköping lost during the week.
Luleå started its week with a tough 4-3 overtime loss at home to Timrå on Nov. 16. Daniel Corso scored the game winner four minutes into the extra session as he poked home a rebound of a shot LHF goalie Anders Nilsson could only parry. Two days later Luleå lost 4-1 to HV 71 in Jönköping as the defending league champions took adavantage of a banged up LHF lineup. Team captain and first-line center Cam Abbott was among five starters that missed the game with injuries. Chris Abbott had the lone goal for Luleå.
Skellefteå continued to ride its high-scoring first line toward the top of the league. SAIK opened its week with a 3-0 road win over Frölunda despite not getting points from the top two scorers in the Elitserien, Joakim Lindström and Mikko Lehtonen. Both had an assist Nov. 18 as Skellefteå skated past HV 71 4-1 at the Kraft Arena. Lindstrom had a goal Nov. 21 but it wasn’t enough as SAIK lost 4-2 to AIK at the Hovet in Stockholm. For AIK, the win marked the eighth-straight game in which the Gnaget earned at least a point and its fourth-straight win.
Despite sitting in fifth place, Linköping has the hottest player in the league in Jan Hkinka. The former New York Ranger scored goals in five-straight games going into the weekend of Nov. 20-21 and now has 10 points in just nine games. Teammate and fellow Czech Jan Hlavac has nine points in as many games for Linköping.
Modo forward Byron Ritchie is just as hot as the Czechs, registering a point in six straight games—three assists and three goals. The former Vancouver Canucks winger has 17 points in 21 games for Modo.
At the bottom of the table, Frölunda and Brynäs continue to struggle. The Indians won just their eighth game out of 22 this season on Nov. 18 when they beat Färjestad 3-1 in Karlstad. Niklas Andersson had a goal and an assist in the win.
The Tigers also have just eight wins, losing twice the week of Nov. 15, 3-0 to Linköping on the road and 3-2 in overtime to Timrå.
AIK goaltender Viktor Fasth stops a wrap-around try from Skellefteå winger Jimmie Ericsson with some help from defenseman David Engblom during AIK's 4-2 win Nov. 21 at the Hovet. Bildbyrån photo