It might be time to update the old adage, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes” to include, “If it’s the hockey playoffs, Färjestad is winning.”
Färjestad, the defending Elitserien champions, are once more playing like they have a reason following a so-so regular season in which they finished sixth and allowed more goals than they scored. No team in Swedish hockey has had more post-season success than the little club from Karlstad. Since 1975, Färjestad has reached 18 finals, winning nine times, while it has also reached the playoffs for 13 of the last 14 seasons and advanced to the semifinals 12 out of 13 times since 1998.
Matched up against No. 3 seed HV 71, the Wolfpack raced out to a 2-0 series lead before losing Game 3 in overtime and a 5-3 decision March 17 to come back to ground a bit. Despite the two losses, FBK captain Rikard Wallin said Färjestad remains upbeat about its chances to advance yet again to at least the semifinals.
“Now it is a best of three,” Wallin said. “We know both teams can win at home and on the road. We have been here before, so we’re not feeling a lot of pressure. Plus, now we have lost two games and we want some revenge.”

St. Patrick's Day buzz
Färjestad might have tried too hard to win on St. Patrick’s Day in front of a sellout crowd of 8,005 at the Löfbergs Lila Arena in Karlstad. Tied at 1-1 at the start of the third period, Färjestad fell behind by a goal at 4:01 when Mattias Karlsson fired the Blue Bulls in front. Hannes Hyvonen and Krister Berglund however rallied the Wolfpack, scoring in a 20-second span to put FBK on top.
The lead stood for a minute as Färjestad, pushing for a two-goal advantage, pushed too hard and got caught with too many men up ice. Jesper Fasth took advantage and beat Färjestad goalie Fredrik Pettersson-Wentzel on a 3-on-2 rush. Then, Färjestad picked up a pair of controversial penalties. First, Berglund got two minutes for roughing when he collided with HV 71 goalie Daniel Larsson, setting up a tying goal from David Petrasek at 11:06 of the period. Jason Krog put the Blue Bulls up two goals 50 seconds later when he scored on another odd-man rush.
“Maybe we tried too hard,” Wallin said. “I thought we controlled the game and the third period, but we didn’t finish on all the chances we had. Now it’s going to get fun.”
The Wolfpack suffered a major loss in Game 3 when goaltender Christopher Nihlstorp left the game in the second period after a collision with HV 71 winger Jesper Fasth and FBK defender Sanny Lindström. Nihlstorp is day-to-day but did not dress for Game 4.


Top seeds claim wins
While Färjestad looks to rebound, top seeds Luleå and Skellefteå simply look to claim wins as they battle much tougher-than-expected opposition. Luleå, the regular season points champion, selected No. 7 seed AIK as its opponent and much like last year, the Gnaget are proving a serious playoff opponent. HV 71, the 2011 regular season champs, picked AIK only to watch as the Gnaget swept them out of the playoffs. Now, Luleå faces a 3-1 series deficit against the Stockholm club.
AIK skated to a comfortable 4-1 win in Game 4 March 16 at the Globe Arena. The Gnaget’s Canadian duo of Kent McDowell and Josh MacNevin each had a goal and an assist to lead AIK to the win. AIK goalie Viktor Fasth, after allowing six goals in the opening game, has allowed just five goals in the last three, all AIK wins.
No. 2 seed Skellefteå is locked in a major fight with Modo, which tied the series at 2-all March 16 with a 1-0 overtime win. Niklas Danielsson scored at 2:06 of the extra session to give Modo the win. Skellefteå won the first two games of the series, but Modo rallied for a 3-2 overtime win in Game 3 before claiming Game 4 at home.
No. 4 seed Brynäs has had it fairly easy in its series with No. 5 Frölunda. The Tigers claimed a 5-0 win in Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead over the Chiefs. Playing at the Scandinavium in Göteborg, Brynäs rode the goaltending of Niclas Svedberg and scoring of Jacob Silferberg to the win. Svedberg stopped 32 shots to record the shut out while Silferberg had a goal and two assists to boost his playoff-leading points total to seven in four games.
by Chipp Reid