Frida Nevalainen, Erika Holst & Elin Holmlov. photo Anders Ottosson.

sweden

Erika Holst

Erika Holst is the Captain of Team Sweden; she celebrated her 300th game on Aug. 27th 2011 at the 12 Nations Tournament in Finland.

EE: Your 300th game on August 27 is a landmark; how do you feel about achieving this goal…most of the top players are still in the 200-250 game mark.
EH: I am happy and proud that I’ve now played 300 games for team Sweden, it feels pretty big, other than that I’m not so much about individual stuff, I want my team to win and be successful.

EE: What did your team do to commemorate this accomplishment?
EH: Before the game at our team meeting Head Coach Niclas Högberg had a very touching speech. I got a jersey to wear with number 300 on it, and after the game there were some pictures taken ;-)
My line mates tried very hard during the game to help me score, and finally they (we) made it with the 8-2 goal…

EE: You have been playing with national team since 1995; what are your plans for 2014 Olympics since you are only 32 years old?
EH: For the 2014 Olympics I have no plans. Right now, my plan is to make it to the 2012 Worlds and then I’ll take it from there.

EE: You are now working with Swedish Ice Hockey Federation. Tell us about that job; when you started and your responsibilities.
EH: Since May 1st 2011 I work full time at the Swedish Ice Hockey Association, as the Manager Women’s Hockey Development. I’m responsible to follow up on a plan made to develop women’s hockey in Sweden. There is lots of focus on recruiting young girls to the sport, making sure they get development plans and opportunities to attend development camps, trying to connect people in the country working for women’s hockey to strive for the same goals. Also making sure players and coaches have an understanding what needs to be done depending on their ambitions as a coach or a player.

EE: What is your training schedule this year?
EH: Now when the club team season has started it will probably be about 4 nights a week with off ice and on ice practice with the team (Segeltorp), and 2 games a week as well as some of my own training before work or during lunch.

EE. You graduated from University of Minnesota Duluth in Exercise Science in 03; have you added to your educational background since then or has hockey been too demanding?
EH: Hockey has been taking up a lot of my time, first preparing for the 2006 Olympics and then the 2010 so I have “only” added a coaching certificate since then. The last five years I’ve been working part time as a high school girl’s hockey instructor.

EE: Sweden has struggled against its perpetual European competitor, Finland. What is happening with the Swedish team; how many younger players taking spots this year?
EH: Well if you ask me if they are all young, ( I am smiling here) We do have quite a few “new” young ones that are coming up. I think we are in a process right now that I believe a lot in, and yes, we have struggled against Finland lately, but it will definitely be interesting games against them in the end of next week.

EE: Can you talk about the 12 Nations tournament; it is new in women’s hockey.
EH: It’s like “little worlds”, it’s a great opportunity to be able to match up against the top ranked teams in the world, and to get a chance to play them not only at worlds. You can also tell that the IIHF camp in Slovakia this summer has built some bridges between countries, players and coaches, which I think is necessary for the development of the game. We are still a small sport in the world and need to use each other’s knowledge to develop, and to do it quickly.

EE: What is your sense of how far women’s hockey has progressed in Sweden and in European countries? Who is the next Erika Holst in the roster to watch for?
EH: I think the last couple of years the number of female hockey players in Sweden has gone down, but I believe this will change, starting this fall with some recruiting projects. I think we have some skilled players coming up, but the competition to take a spot on team Sweden must and will be tougher, then we will get skilled players with character.
I don’t think there will be a next Erika Holst, these kids coming up are way too good to be limited as that, but you definitely need to watch for Michelle Löwenhielm, and Linnea Hedin.

EE: Thanks so much, I hope to talk to you for your 350th game…
EH: Ha ha…. We will see…. But if that were to happen, I hope to talk to you before then!

Elizabeth Etue Editor WINIH.
 

 Q&A by Heather McIntyre Nov. 2009

Q. How long have you been captain of the team?

A. Since Fall 2001.

Q. Growing up and playing hockey in Sweden, what were your hockey aspirations? Have you exceeded them?

A. I didn’t think much about being a captain until our manager told me early on that I one day would be the captain of Team Sweden. I was pretty young when I said I wanted to play in the Olympics, but I’m not sure if  I thought it would be four of them.

Q. What has been your favourite moment of your hockey career and why?

A. Winning the silver medal in Torino four years ago was a favorite, to be able to do something we, and probably only we, believed in.

Also winning the NCAA Frozen Four at home in Duluth in 2003, to end a great college career with a 2nd OT win in a sold out home arena.

Q. How do you feel about the team that will head to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver? 

A. I feel good about our team, i feel we are taking steps in the right direction every day we are together. We have a young team, we did lose some players after Torino, but have gotten some new young talent on the team. 

Q. Your team recorded a 2-2 finish at the Four Nations Cup in early November. How has your other competition been?

A. Our competition have been good this year, we do have alot of tournaments not only the 4 Nations Cup but we also play some boys teams to prepare for the Olympics.

Q. What is your leadership style?

A. That's a tough question for me to answer, I think I demand alot from my teammates, but I also give alot...  I know things can always be better and I want them to. I’m not satisfied until something is excellent. I try to keep a positive attitude and give people around me energy. I lead by example by striving for excellence and demand nothing less from my teammates.

Q. Whose leadership do you admire?

A. I will always admire Stacy Wilson (Team Canada Captain in 1998 Olympics)  as a leader and a person.

Q. How have you noticed female hockey change in Sweden? In what ways is it different than when you first laced on your skates?

A. There are more players now. There is an "Elite league" with the top 8 teams in the country in the last 3 years.  Prior to that we had three leagues, dividing Sweden in three regions. Right now I play in a club, Segeltorps IF, that is the only (that I know about) Club in Sweden that has their women's team as the number one team in the club. We get the best ice times, and the best locker room, and don't have to stand second to a mens team. 

Q. What should international hockey fans expect from Team Sweden?

A. I am very excited about the Olympic hockey tournament in Vancouver, I believe it will be the best in a long time. I think fans can expect a young talented team that will fight until the end!