The qualification for the 2019/20 SHL places between the bottom two clubs in the SHL and the best two clubs in the Hockeyallsvenskan is now over.
And the surprise is that neither Mora IK or Timrå IK will stay in the top division, but instead will be replaced by Leksand IF and IK Oskarshamn.
Shock results in Hockeyallsvenskan
The regular season in Allsvenskan saw Stockholm’s AIK cruise to the top of the league 11 points ahead of second placed Oskarshamn. AIK were expected to sail through the decider series against the second place team and have a good chance taking on Timrå in the qualifier.
But the team from Småland we’re having none of it and beat the Stockholm club 2-1 in games.
Whilst Oskarshamn have the best two keepers from the regular season in youngsters Adam Åhman (19 yrs) and Christoffer Rifalk (22 yrs), it is AIKs Erik Källgren (22 yrs) who has caught attention of North American scouts. Having been drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in 2015 they took up their right to take him to America where he is currently in the roster for their AHL team, Tucson Roadrunners.
AIK knocked out
However, the Stockholm club got a second bite at the cherry playing fourth placed, Leksand IF, who won their playoff match. And again the favourites were unable to get the job done and were defeated by thr Dalarna club who finished the season 19 points behind AIK. Perhaps it was partly to do with experience as the win for Leksand meant for the third season in a row they would play their closest rivals, Mora IK, in the SHL qualifier.
Timrå v Oskarshamn
Timrå may have struggled in the SHL, but were the favourites for the series against the Allsvenskan club. The games proved tight as tight can be - the first three matches being decided by overtime. So, unsurprisingly, it went to the seventh game, the winner takes all decided in Timrå.
Jonas Engström, who had been second in the team’s internal points race in the season, scored the first of three goals the team would score on the night and Rifalk was unbeaten meaning a 0-3 victory for Oskarshamn. So for the first time in the club’s history and after 23 years in the Hockeyallsvenskan, the Småland club will play in the top division of Swedish hockey next season.
The Battle of Siljan
The towns of Mora and Leksand lie just 30 km apart at either end of Lake Siljan. Mora had won the last two times these teams had met in the SHL qualifier and with four players scoring more than 30 points on the season, including captain and former NHL/ AHL player Spenser Abbott coming in 13th on Total Points, they were probably favourites over their Allsvenskan rivals.
But it was not to be.
Leksand IF took the series with relative ease, 4-1 in games. And it was the unknown 19 year old defenseman, August Berg, pictured, who took the series winning goal for the blue and whites. The Stockholm born player chose the right time to score his first goal at senior level having only played a bit part in the regular season- he scored the game winning goal at 3:08 in overtime to sink Mora on their home ice.