Zlatan wins again
Ho, hum. Zlatan Ibrahimovic won yet another Golden Ball. It may seem like a broken record, but the 34-year-old Swedish international continues to defy age as he just keeps scoring goals and racking up trophies.

Ibrahimovic won his record tenth Golden Ball as Sweden’s top male soccer player November 10 at the annual Football Gala, which honors Sweden’s top soccer players. Hedvig Lindahl, Chelsea (England) and Swedish international goalkeeper, won the Diamond Ball as the county’s top female player.

Zlatan also became an all-time leading scorer as he surpassed Sven Rydell for the men’s scoring lead and topped the list of scorers for his club team, Paris Saint-Germain. The 2015 Golden Ball was the tenth for Ibrahimovic, who won his first top prize in 2005. He received his award from legendary Portuguese footballer Luis Figo, who is married to a Swede.

The striker, whose career began with Malmo FF, was gracious as always in accepting his award. "Last year, I promised to come here to collect my tenth Golden Ball,” he told the crowd. “I don't know if I can promise the same thing for next year."

He said the latest Golden Ball was proof of something he learned long ago.
"This makes me think of my time as a junior football player in Malmö. I used to sit in the locker room, looking around, and thinking: 'To succeed, I have to be 10 times better than everyone else, but it feels like I have already managed that," he said. "There is no more to say. I have made history again and again. I hope someone else gets to experience what I have experienced. The joy can't be described. Many thanks to all who have been following me from day one."

Diamond Ball winner Lindahl enjoyed her best season in goal for club and country in 2015 as she led Chelsea to the England Football Association Women’s Soccer League double, taking both the League Cup and the league title. She did not allow a goal in Sweden’s World Cup qualifying campaign and prior to her move to England led Kristianstad to its best-ever finish in the Damallsvenskan.

SAIK, Frölunda take charge
It is starting to become a two-way race at the top of the Swedish Hockey League between its two most consistent regular season teams, Skellefteå AIK and Frölunda.

SAIK has been the most consistent regular-season team in the SHL for the past five years, finishing no lower than fourth in any season. For the Indians, the return to the top of the table is welcomed news after several up-and-down seasons that saw Frolunda finish anywhere from third to seventh. However, just like Skellefteå, Frolunda always manages to be in a playoff position.

Both teams had somewhat slow starts to the season as once more, the siren call of North American dollars lured several key players to the American Hockey League and the NHL. SAIK lost five players to the NHL draft, including leading scorer Victor Arvidsson, who now plays for Anaheim. Skellefteå dropped its first two games of the season before roaring to life, winning 19 of 21 matches.

The Indians have watched as 10 players moved to North America in the past two seasons, including its top scorers from last season, Jacob Larsson and John Dahlstrom. Replacing what is essentially three full lines in the past two seasons had caused the Indians to stumble somewhat, but they returned to stability this year with an exclamation point.

The Göteborg club had its best 20-game start to the season since becoming Frölunda HC in 2004-05, and it doesn't particularly look like it's slowing down either. With 17 wins and three losses to start the year, Frölunda is quietly going about its business in the hunt for not only the regular season title, but for the Le Mat Trophy as well.

Skellefteå and Frölunda have each won 17 games this season but SAIK tops the table with 55 points, thanks to two more overtime wins than the Indians, who have 53 points. Surprise Le Mat Trophy winners Växjö Lakers are currently third while the Brynäs Tigers are fourth.

The battle for the next four spots looks to be a season-long affair as every team except bottom-dwellers Modo and Karlskrona have a shot at making the playoffs. Örebro, with 35 points, currently holds the eighth and final spot but HV 71, 33 points, and Luleå, 31 points, are hard on their heels. The Malmö Redhawks and Rögle, 23 and 22 points respectively, have outside chances as well.

If second-to-last Modo is going to make any move to get out of the cellar, then former Pittsburgh Penguin defenseman Noah Welch will be the one who leads the Örnsköldsvik club to safety. Welch, who captained the Växjö Lakers to the SHL crown last year and was the playoff MVP, signed with Modo in the offseason but only recently returned to action after recovering from a shoulder injury.

Appointed team captain upon his arrival at his new club, Welch has taken the role with both hands and has led by example. The American has averaged more time on the ice in his first six games of the year than any other player in the league. Welch’s 25:11 TOI/GP is 49 seconds per match more than Färjestad defenseman Jonas Holös who is second in average ice-time. Welch is not only putting in the long minutes, he is also producing points. The 33-year-old has scored 6 points (2G+4A) in 6 games since he joined the club.