We take a look at the Swedish Hockey League and focus in on one of Friday’s games that sees Brynas up against the Vaxjo Lakers
I will have to admit my own attitudes to hockey are somewhat jaundiced by a traumatic school days instance that left me, temporarily, with a squeaky voice and a new healthy respect for girls – especially ones wielding a piece of weaponry disguised as sporting equipment, and definitely the ones holding accidentally-on-purpose slightly too high and have a glint in their eye that recall pigtail pullings of yore.
Of course that was field hockey at school and bore far more similarity to a St. Trinians movie than to the actual playing of hockey, although the levels of violence I experienced during my brief brush with the sport do seem to replicate some of those seen in another of the game’s incarnations; Ice hockey. Of course the popular perception that ice hockey is one long continual flight on skates is both inaccurate and tends to find most footing in nations that don’t play it.
Most of this comes from the tendency for popular culture to portray ice hockey as an absurdly fast paced game that only slows down enough for you to see what is going on in anything but a retrospective manner when a fight breaks out. The nearest a lot of people come to the game is watching Paul Newman mug his way through the 1977 comedy “Slap Shot”, or perhaps worse Emilio Estevez in the 1992 travesty “The Mighty Ducks”.
Neither portray ice hockey in a particularly favorable light, the former presenting a selection of psychotics and misfits as players, and the latter coating everything with so much cheese that you can barely see the ice at all. Even when they make stories based on real players they have a tendency to choose the ones with a temper a la “Gross Misconduct: The Life Of Brian Spencer”. Outside its traditional homes ice hockey has a reputation.
A Very Misrepresented Sport
This is a huge shame because there is little to rival the excitement and energy of the game, and if you just want to see teams of men randomly fighting with each other during an incomprehensible sports event you can go watch Australian Rules Football. The speed of the puck and the frenetic pace of the players provides a spectacle like no other, and the enclosed nature of the setting just adds to a sense of compressed action.
• Ice Hockey hugely popular
• Games attract massive audience
• Bet on the SHL at ComeOn! Sportsbook
This then perhaps is why the SHL (Swedish Hockey League) is so popular, people in Sweden actually watch the game itself not Hollywood’s ghastly misrepresentations of it. The 2013-14 season brought just under two million spectators to the ice, and remember that’s in a country that only has just under ten million people in it to begin with. That’s the sort of popularity that the NFL can only be gambling news of its reforms might engender once more. It is a national obsession.
With just 12 teams the SHL is the pinnacle of the sport and games boast crowd attendances on par with the other major centers of the sport and it is fast becoming a popular sport to wager upon, not least because the league is so closely matched. This is why the now traditional outdoor games that are played each season garner crowds in excess of fifteen thousand, the result is always in doubt and that makes for great action both on the ice and in any market upon them.
Of course Swedish gambling laws are a tad archaic, something perhaps most obviously underlined by the the EU taking the country to court over the artificial barriers placed on trades and services by the state backed monopoly of Svenska Spel. This will evidently be no where as fast paced as ice hockey itself with neither side known for their alacrity when it comes to legal matters, and Sweden having very little to gain (except a quiet life) by acquiescing to the EU’s demands for liberalization of domestic gambling markets in Sweden.
Can Brynas Avoid Relegation?
Regardless of the legal wranglings that will doubtless make the old Norse sagas look like a five minute Tom & Jerry cartoon, the sport has attracted numerous gamblers looking to take advantage of tight games and the occasional upset that keeps bookmakers honest. Friday’s game between Vaxjo lakers and Brynas for instance might not make the gambling news book makers like and will be a good opportunity to look at ComeOn! Sportbook’s range of wagers for the discerning hockey fan. It goes way beyond merely the winners and losers.
Of course you can back either team to win, The Lakers who only qualified for the league back in 2011/12 look to have the advantage on paper getting 1.68 to Brynas’ 4.50 with a draw between the two holding steady at 4.45 which probably reflects Brynas’ record over the last few games that has been less than stellar, however hovering just above the two relegation series qualifying slots means they’ll come out fighting on Friday night.
The Vaxjo Lakers have fared better of late despite sitting 19 points below the table topping Skelleftea AIK, but then their nearest competitiors this season have been Frolunda HC, and indeed without Skelleftea’s amazing run of luck that seen them amass 24 wins to just 9 losses, the closeness of the league becomes apparent. The next 7 teams of the 12 fewer than 10 points apart. That 14 point advantage the league leaders enjoy won’t matter much once the playoffs begin.
Certainly for those that like to bet on sports in Sweden Skelleftea AIK remain the favorites at 1.86 to take the championship but HV71 are in with a shot as are Frolunda HC both on 5.20 and Vaxjo Lakers HC at 8.25 just ahead of Farjestads BK and Linkopings HC who are both on 12.00. Of course the stats can say anything they like because in the end it’ll all come down to that fast paced frenetic ball of compressed excitement and action that is a game of ice hockey in the SHL.