Before the quarterfinals finished in the SHL, I got the chance to speak with Isac Lundeström on behalf of Anaheim Calling. Having just come off an emotional victory against last year’s champions Växjö Lakers, it was an elated but tired Lundeström that took some time after the game for the interview.
“It feels good to be here, this is what I went home for - the playoffs!”, says Lundeström directly. “It feels better and better for every game and having just beat Växjö it feels like we can beat any team. However it also feels like every team can win these playoffs, there is no clear favourite this year. You could see that in the standings as well, we swapped places with each other after every game day”.
Coming home has been good for the young Swede. While he produced 9 (2+7) points in the 19 regular season games he played with Luleå, Lundeström has stepped up in the playoffs scoring 6 (1-5) points in seven games.
“It is great to come back home to a top team in SHL, they were good when I arrived and it has just continued the same way since I joined the team”. It’s a different team from the classic Luleå teams that were big and physically imposing but that just makes it more fun according to Lundeström. “It suits my game better and makes the transition easier,” he said.
“I speak with Anaheim and Todd [Marchant, Ducks Director of Player Develpment] every now and then, but he knows I am in the middle of a playoff situation and leaves me be right now”.
Lundeström laughes when asked what kind of homework he got from Anaheim when he left California, but confesses that “everything goes faster and they want me to up my tempo here and get my shot off a lot quicker.”
Luleå’s assistant coach Henrik Stridh took some time to talk to Anaheim Calling as well and heaped praise on the young adept.
“There was no transition period needed, Isac practiced with us the whole summer and he knows so many of the players that it was just to put him in the line up and let him play his own game.” Stridh aknowledges that Lundeström had a bit of a down period during a few games, but he has stepped up in time for the playoffs.
When asked how much Anaheim spoke with the coaching staff, Stridh says, “Not a lot, both clubs want Isac to succeed, and all of us wants him to shoot faster and more often. Personally I think it has to do with his confidence, his shot is quite good, Isac just needs to realise it himself.”
Both Lundeström and Stridh were at the games when Luleå’s women’s team turned the series around and won the Swedish championship in the deciding game five in front of a boisterous home crowd, both cited it as an incentive to do something similar with the mens team. “You see them do it and you think to yourself ‘I want to win a championship myself’, now we just have to follow their path and do it no matter what the cost”.
Since the interview Luleå has gone down three games to one against Frölunda in the the semifinals and play Game 5 tonight to try and extend their championship hopes.