Frölunda Hockey is finally back where it always wants to be.

After finishing in second place in the regular season, the Indians proved unstoppable in the playoffs, completing their march to the Le Mat Trophy with a 4-1 series win over Skellefteå in the finals of the Swedish Hockey League. Frölunda wrapped up its fourth Swedish title on April 24 with a 5-3 win over Skellefteå, the team that just pipped them for the regular season title.

ADVERTISEMENT
Volvo Overseas - the ultimate experience

“It went in waves but we found a way to win,” said team captain Joel Lundqvist. “It is as it was throughout the year when it is needed, we are best. We knew last fall that we had something special. We have the breadth and the squad. It's just to thank the management that built the squad. It was a while ago there was gold so it's really nice to feel the feeling again.”

The Indians proved in all three of their finals series that they were going to give whatever it took to win the double of the Champions Hockey League and SHL. Frölunda excelled at the “little things” throughout the playoffs, grinding along the boards, blocking shots and back-checking. It also had a high-scoring American leading the way.

Ryan Lasch, a 2012 draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks, led Frölunda and all scorers in the playoffs with 19 points on 8 goals and 11 assists. Lasch, a former top scorer in the Finnish League and a veteran of both the American Hockey League and the East Coast Hockey League, blossomed as one of the top players in the SHL this season. He led the league in scoring during the regular season as he averaged a point per game in the 51 games he played, scoring 15 goals and racking up 36 assists. He remained hot throughout the playoffs and turned his linemate, 20-year-old Finn Artturi Lehkonen, into a scoring machine. Lekhonen also amassed 19 points in the playoffs, scoring 11 goals and 8 assists. Lasch assisted on eight of the Finn’s goals.

"It's incredible what efficiency we have,” said Frölunda head coach Roger Rönnberg. "And we have match winners who step forward when needed."

After splitting the first two games in the playoffs, the Indians used their defense to smother Skellefteå, notching a 3-1 win in Game 3 behind goals from Lekhonen and American winger Joel Crabb. Indians goalie Johan Gustafsson, who stepped in for injured No. 1 net minder Lars Johansson after Johansson suffered a concussion in the semifinal series against Luleå, stopped 29 of 30 shots for the win.

Game 4 was tighter, as Skellefteå played desperately to avoid a 3-1 hole. The Indians fell behind 1-0 then took a 2-1 lead on goals by Lasch and Johan Sundström (from a Lasch assist). SAIK tied the game late the in second period before Elias Faith scored an unassisted goal at 8:35 of the third period. Gustafsson made the goal standup, turning aside 11 third-period shots.

Game 5 was a case of both teams playing with desperation — Skellefteå to stay alive and Frölunda to clinch its fourth Swedish title. The combination of Lasch and Lekhonen, however, was more than Skellefteå could handle, Lasch set up the Finn for a pair of first-period goals. Skellefteå fought back in the second, twice cutting the lead to two goals, but Lasch tallied at 11:46 of the second to restore the three-goal cushion and the Indians began to celebrate.

The title is the fourth overall for Frölunda and its first since 2005.