November has just started but in the SDHL that means a two week break to allow for an international training camp. The women will return to the ice on 15th November, so we've got a chance to take a look at the action that has taken place over the last month here in Sweden.
Luleå/ MSSK have dominated the SDHL-era of club hockey since it's inception in 2016 raising the Swedish championship trophy three times in those four years playoffs. Behind them has usually been Linköping HC or MODO Hockey.
But now in the 12th year of Swedish women's elite hockey, with all the teams having played at least 13 matches, there are already signs of a power shift.
And so far, this season's team to beat are HV71 who after 16 matches have only lost twice. As one of those was an defeat in overtime, the club has still collected points in all but one of their games so that they lead the SDHL by 12 points over second placed, Brynäs IF.
It was third placed Djurgården IF, who were visiting the Kinnarps Arena, who have been the only team to beat the league leaders' in regulation.
HV71's winning streak is based on a classic formula - being stingy in defence and successful in front of net. The Jonköping club extended it's contract with their 2018/9 goalkeeper, Alba Gonzalo. Whilst the Spaniard does not have the league's highest save percentage, she has the lowest Goals Against Average letting in a painfully low 1.55 GAA when between the posts.
This summer saw a huge amount of transfers and HV71 signed four of the best players from last year's SDHL and made them their own. The result is yellow and blue players dominate the Total Points table with Kennedy Marchment (13G+13A), Hanna Olsson (9G+13A), Sidney Morin (6G+15A) and Kaitlyn Tougas (6G+13A) all in the top eight of scorers.
Therefore the Jonköping club has the highest scoring Swedish player in the league with Olsson and the highest scoring defender with Morin (pictured). The blueliner, who is a 2018 US Olympic Gold medalist, also has the top plus/ minus in the league with a staggering +24!
HV's dominance can been seen when you compare to their opponents. Whereas the league leaders have won 14 matches, Brynäs IF (in second) and AIK (in fourth) have only won 8 whilst Djurgården IF (in third) have won nine of their 15 matches. The season is far from over, but it is already smelling like gold in Kinnarps Arena.
For second placed Brynäs IF their position has a lot to do with their signing of Swiss Olympian, Lara Stalder. Like Morin and Marchment she has come from Linköping who are struggling this year. Stalder tops the Total Points and Goal scoring with 20G+11A clocking up a netbreaking 2.21 PPG average.
The 2019/20 season is already promising to be one of the the best in women's hockey history here in Sweden. The quality is improving year on year, something that can be seen in the fact that the top two scorers, Stalder and Marchment, were drafted in the NWHL and that at least eight CWHL players have joined the league this year in the fallout from the #forthegame movement.
Another encouraging sign in that the bottom two teams for the last few years, SDE and Gothenburg HC, who previously were there just to make up the numbers, have improved beyond recognition this year. Both teams have already won more matches this year that they won in the whole 2018/9 season. It means that every match SDHL is 60 minutes of hard fought and competitive hockey, the highest standard seen in Sweden in the 12 years of elite women's sport.