TheRussianRocket. Posted July 14, 2013 Share Posted July 14, 2013 http://www.theprovince.com/touch/story.html?id=8649080 Joacim Eriksson already knows about patience coming before performance. After being a Swedish junior hockey understudy to Jacob Markstrom before moving up the ranks and putting up some eye-popping numbers — culminating with a Swedish Elite League title last season with Skelleftea HC — the highly sought goaltender was chased by six NHL teams and now finds himself in a familiar position with the Vancouver Canucks. Knowing that he will battle Eddie Lack for the backup job to Roberto Luongo next NHL season — assuming the startled reappointed starter will be motivated by Olympic and Stanley Cup challenges — Eriksson, the former seventh-round draft pick of Philadelphia in 2008, wasn’t signed by the Flyers and is banking on his latest battle being more about competition than contracts. Then again, the Canucks tried to sign the 23-year-old native of the tiny village of Hedesunda, Sweden, a year ago because he falls into the conversation of the best keeper not playing in the NHL. Signed to a two-year, two-way entry-level deal last month to forego the final year of his SEL deal, the butterfly-style stopper will earn $925,000 US if he plays in the NHL and $70,000 in the AHL. Lack had hip surgery Jan. 29 and his contract reverts to a one-way, $750,000 status next fall. To Eriksson, this current Canucks prospects camp, followed by the Young Stars tournament in Penticton in early September, should prep him for the big battle. He knows Lack from growing up in the same Swedish hockey system and he’s learning about the politics of the position. Regardless, he’s anxious for competition and will let his play do the talking. “I’m very excited for the opportunity to show what I can do, and it feels good to fight against good goalies,” Eriksson said Thursday following a scrimmage at Rogers Arena. “I hope the better goalie is going to play because I want to be as high up as possible.” None of this should be surprising. It started with Eriksson backstopping Sweden to its only under-18 gold medal with a 2007 triumph in the Ivan Hlinka Tournament. He was named the national junior development roster the following season but again played back up to Markstrom. Eriksson played for Brynas and Leksands but his three seasons with Skelleftea really raised his profile — especially last season. He went 21-9-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average and .931 saves percentage in the regular season before backstopping the playoff run. In 10 postseason games, he had a sparkling 1.06 GAA and .952 saves percentage, and two years ago had a 1.82 GAA and .932 saves percentage. So the better the battle, the better Eriksson performed. “I’ve had many times where I’ve had good goalies in front of me, but it’s been good for me because Markstrom is a great goalie and when I went to Skelleftea, I had to do the same,” he added. “We had a really good team and the guys played great in front of me and took away the rebounds all the time." Eriksson played defence until he was 11 and then switched to being the last line of defence. “I like to be the guy in the back,” stressed Eriksson. “One save can make you the winner or one shot can make me like a fool. But I like the pressure. I played soccer when I grew up. I was not so good. I’m a butterfly goalie and I want to be able to read the game and stand up as long as possible. It’s a little bit different here and the coaches understand what I like and I’m learning new things. It’s a little bit faster here and they (forwards) get in on the goal faster, but I like that.” It’s not surprising that Eriksson idolized countryman Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers. And the fact that Anders Lindback, Jhonas Enroth, Viktor Fasth and Markstrom are making their marks in the North American game doesn’t surprise Eriksson. Strong coaching in the Swedish club system is obviously paying off. “We have more goalie coaches now and that’s very important,” he said. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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