Last Sunday, Jönköping University’s ice hockey team JUH kicked off their season with an electrifying game against KTH from Stockholm. Of course we were there supporting our team front row witnessing this thrilling showdown.
JU Hockey captain and coach Isak Kenttälä graciously took the time to speak with EDIT after the game, so we can now share with you all highlights and insights from JUH’s season opener.
As I arrived at the rink, I saw lots of familiar faces. Many JU students were already huddled together on the benches to keep each other warm in the cold arena. People walked around, coffee and snacks in their hands, meeting up with friends that were already waiting for them. The arena echoed with the pulsating beats of AC/DC as the teams hit the ice for their warm-ups. Everyone was looking forward to the first JU ice hockey game of the season, and the closer it got to 4.00 pm, the greater my own excitement got.
The moment we had all been waiting for finally arrived as JUH and KTH players lined up, joining in singing the Swedish national anthem before the JU team gathered around one goal cage screaming „JUH“ at the top of their lungs. Finally, the puck dropped at 4.15 pm and the first period of the game began.
The game started intensely. Both teams displayed unwavering determination, fighting for control of the puck to gain the upper hand. Ice hockey, with its complexity and fascinating pace, can be mesmerizing for newbies. Keeping up can be challenging; one blink and it feels like you’ve missed a crucial moment.
As a new fan, you might also not know the basics yet. Ice hockey games consist of three periods, each lasting 20 minutes, with 15-minute breaks in between. In case of a tie, an additional shorter period is added. JU Hockey competes in the Swedish University Hockey Association (SUHL), a relatively new official league founded in December 2022, where they face six other university teams in the 2023/2024 season.
Watching the game, one couldn’t help but feel an incredible team spirit within JUH. The atmosphere was charged with positive energy, camaraderie, and motivational cheers. Isak Kenttälä shared his perspective: „It’s so much fun playing for the university because so many people are coming here watching us play. It’s amazing that we have the opportunity to play hockey for the university. We are a tight group of guys just having fun.“
The first goal of the game was scored by JUH’s Fabian Samuelsson, 15 minutes into the first period. Despite KTH’s numerous goal attempts, our goalie, Anton Lundqvist, stood his ground, denying every shot. The first period finished off with a score of 1:0 in JUH’s favor, and the players made their way to the locker rooms.
Ever wondered what goes on during that break? No worries, we asked JUH’s captain and coach Isak about that too: „We recap what happened in the period and what the current situation looks like. We talk about what we can do better. We also try to read the other team more and catch up on what they are doing and use that as an advantage for us“.
The second period continued with both teams fiercely competing, maintaining a high intensity. Alfred Mosskull of JUH scored the second goal. KTH responded with their first, which led to an intermediate standing of 2:1 going into the next break. Then, in the final 20 minutes, unexpected events unfolded. KTH managed to score two goals, taking the lead. In the last two minutes, JUH’s goalie left his zone to join the offense, a move that KTH capitalized on, sealing their 4:2 victory.
Isak acknowledged this sudden turnaround and expressed some disappointment, saying, „I think the game was good but KTH was a size bigger than us today. I think that we should have won the game but it was tight”.
However, this setback didn’t dampen the spirits of JUH. Both teams exchanged handshakes and posed for a memorable group photo. Isak summed up the game’s highlights beautifully: „It’s the first game of the season for us. We were 17 players today and I think everyone was great. We fought for our team and as a team. I think everyone should be proud. I am really happy as the coach that we had the lead of the game for two periods“.
While the team headed to Shooters for burgers and beer to celebrate their performance, I was sitting at home writing this article feeling a little exhausted, yet truly inspired. A friend of mine said that what happened on the ice was contagious. I needed to look that one up but it fits perfectly. The energy and adrenaline were so great that they were easily passed on to us spectators which made us feel like we were part of the game.
In the coming weeks, JUH will play five more games, with some of them taking place in the cities of the universities they compete against. Isak assured us that this adds an extra layer of excitement for the players. The ultimate goal? To win the season by triumphing in the upcoming games.
So, everyone, let’s get off the couches in these winter months to support JUH and cheer them on at their next home game on the 18th of November!
Writer: Nathalie du Hamél