For the second year in a row the final will be between favourites, Luleå/ MSSK and Linköping HC. A Brit on Thin Ice takes a look at the key battles that will determine who wins the Swedish Championship 2018/9.
1. HIGH SCORING DEFENDERS
Sidney Morin (USA) v Jenni Hiirikoski (FIN)
Undoubtedly, the best two-way-backs in the SHL, Linköping's Olympic Gold medalist, Sidney Morin against Luleå's Finnish Olympic Bronze medalist Jenni Hiirikoski, will be a fascinating battle. They were the top scoring defenders in the league, 23 year old Morin with 38 points (17G-21A) and 31 year old Hiirikoski with 63 (19G+44A) on the season. Morin has the hard shot from the blue line in her arsenal whereas the skillful Hiirikoski draws players to her creating space for others. The Finn came second in Total Points in the regular season, just one point behind winner, Michela Cava.
They are both have fast feet and read the game really well. The major difference, and perhaps her only weakness, is that the Finn draws more penalties with her aggressive style racking up 36 PIM in the regular season. By contrast, the taller American collected just six penalties in the whole season, meaning that she sat out for just 12 minutes in over 1900 minutes of play.
Morin's USA beat Hiirikoski's Finland in both the group stage and the semifinals of the 2018 Olympics. But in this club match the Finn will have the advantage with four of her Olympic teammates around her. The Gold medalist will have to be content with new line mate, Canadian Brooke Stacey and a new teammate from Finland, Susanna Tapani who have been brought in for the playoffs by the Östergötland club.
SUMMARY: Hiirikoski will score more points that Morin and, as they say, points make prizes. Advantage: Luleå