It was a tournament of firsts at the Under-19 Floorball World Championships April 8 to May 3 in Helsingborg, Sweden as a record 16 countries participated in the tournament. Floorball, or innebandy as it is known in Sweden, is a combination of floor hockey and bandy. Teams of six — a goaltender, two defenders and three forwards — compete on a basketball court sized field. The players use short curved sticks to control a small ball that has holes in it, almost like a whiffle ball. Each match is played over three 20-minute periods, just like hockey, and the players take the court in shifts, again like hockey.
First timers Japan, Australia and the United States acquitted themselves well as organizers split the championships into two flights, the A-Division which battled for the title and the B-Division, which fought for a spot in the top flight. Finland took home the gold medal with a 13-3 win over Switzerland, marking the first time since the tournament began a team other than Sweden reached the final. The Swiss beat the Swedes in a thrilling penalty-shoot-out semifinal to reach their first-ever gold-medal game. Sweden ended up in fourth place after dropping the bronze-medal game to the Czech Republic.
The Finns were clearly the best team in the tournament as they won all five of their matches. After opening with a narrow 8-6 win over a surprising Slovakia, the Finns hammered the Swiss 12-2 and Latvia 10-1, setting up a semifinal with the Czechs. After a slightly slow start, the Finns cruised to a 6-2 win to reach the final, where they faced a surprise opponent.
Switzerland, playing in its fifth straight semifinal, grabbed a 6-3 second-half lead over Sweden and appeared set to move to the final when the Blue and Yellow suddenly woke up. Swedish forward Markus Karlsson scored three times in the last 90 seconds of regulation to knot the score at six. Following a scoreless overtime, the two teams went to penalties. Andrin Hollenstein scored to give Switzerland a 9-8 lead and when Viktor Nystedt missed his shot, the Swiss mood turned to joy.
The Finns dominated the final, beating Switzerland 13-3 as tournament leading scorer Ville Lastikka scored four times to lead the Finns to the win. The Swiss never really got going in the game, trailing 8-1 after two periods.
For the Swedes, the tournament was a worst-ever as they failed to win a medal for the time in their history.
In the B-Division, newcomers USA did what they could against international competition and despite losing all three of their group matches, the Americans proved they could play. The U.S. opened with a 12-3 loss to Hungary before the Danes topped them 13-2. Despite the lopsided losses, the Americans, led by leading scorer Adrian Hiram, gave the Canadians their toughest match of the tournament. The U.S. led 6-5 after two periods, but the Canadians overwhelmed their neighbors in the third, scoring 11 goals to claim a 16-10 win. The U.S. then faced Japan in the game for 15th place. Japan was also winless in group play and was able to do little against a well-organized American offense. Isak Angerstif had three goals while Hiram netted his team-high seventh of the tournament to lead the U.S. to an 11-6 win.

Allsvenskan generating renewed interest
Seven games into the 2015 Allsvenskan, public interest in the league is running at an all-time high as Malmö looks to forge the type of dynasty it once enjoyed back in the 1970s.
The two-time defending champions are in first place in the league with 17 points from seven games. IFK Göteborg is a close second with 16 points. Malmö has yet to lose this season, going 5-2-0 to start the season while the Angels’ only blemish in a 5-1-1 start came at the hands of Malmö in round three.
MFF’s quest to become the next Scandinavian superclub — a team that not only wins domestically year after year but reached the upper stages of the UEFA Champions League — has made Malmö the top story of Swedish football, but Hammarby remains the biggest draw, thanks in large part to its Stockholm derby matches with Djurgården and AIK. Hammarby returned to the Allsvenskan after four years in the Superettan and its fans have certainly celebrated, turning out in droves for the Bajen’s first three home games. Hammarby has drawn 83,029 people to the Tele2 Arena (which it shares with Djurgården) for a league-high average of 27,681 fans per game. In four road matches, 83,229 have turned out, an average of 20,807.
AIK, which plays at the new Friends Arena, is second in attendance with 93,253 fans flocking to its four games for an average crowd of 23,381. Malmö is third with 80,027 fans coming to its four home matches at the Swedbank Arena, for an average of 20,007. Falkenbergs FF, which plays in the smallest stadium in the league, brings up the rear with slightly more than 3,000 attending each home game.
Malmö leads the league in scoring, netting 17 goals in its seven matches, with Jo Inge Berget leading the way with six goals. The Norwegian joined Malmö from Cardiff City on the English Premier League along with teammate Magnus Wolf Ekrem. Ekrem leads the league in assists with six and in overall points with eight.
The top defense belongs to IFK Göteborg, which has allowed just four goals in seven matches. Goalkeeper John Alvbåge leads the Allsvenskan in goals against average with a tiny 0.57 GAA. He has three shut outs and his 85 percent save average is also best in the league. Gefle netminder Emil Hedvall leads the Allsvenskan with four shut outs but has also allowed 12 goals in his three other matches. Malmö goalkeeper Robin Olsen has two shut outs and a 1.00 GAA. AIK goalkeeper Patrik Calgren and Elfsborg netminder Kevin Stuhr Ellegaard are the only other keepers to allow fewer than one goal per game. Each has given up six goals in seven games.
While Malmö, Elfsborg and IFK Göteborg have all won five games, Cup finalist Örebro continues to look for its first league victory of the season. The most intriguing match, upcoming Round 8, is Elfsborg playing host to Malmö at Borås Arena. That match is on May 11 and is available as a web cast on both the Malmö FF ( and Elfsborg ( websites.
By Chipp Reid