The Växjö coach has been synonymous with the club’s success. He has led the team to all three of the club’s gold medals during his nine years as coach, that says it all. Despite two less successful years, the team rose again this year to a series victory. Then it went like the train in the playoffs.
A big key was the tactician Hallam who matches his team with great accuracy and also has the ability to get the most out of his team time and time again. It did not matter who played. If Andrew Calof has been allowed to stand by and junior Victor Stjernborg has been allowed to play or if Illari Melart has been suspended and replaced by Linus Nässén – it has gone Växjö’s way anyway.
Hallam has all the parts a leader needs from media management to match leadership.
The unexpected heroes
Call it width, call it what you will. But they are a few, the players who may not have been meant to be at the forefront of the playoffs.
Erik Källgren replaced the injured star goalkeeper Viktor Fasth with bravura, Pontus Holmberg (with chain mates Marcus Sylvegård and Fredrik Karlström) accounted for several important goals, Hardy Häman Aktell decided the second final in extra time and Linus Nässén showed an excellent fullback in the final series.
Few would have thought that those players would contribute in that way before the playoffs.
Old is oldest
They may not have been the most driving players in Växjö’s offensive and scored as many points as expected. Nor may they have steered and put in numerical superiority as they wished. But the experienced duo Richard Gynge (34 years) and Robert Rosén (33) have contributed anyway. Swing has shown the way with a couple of important goals and Rosén has contributed with a physically and defensively strong game.
In addition, the technical specialist and team captain Erik Josefsson (34) has the second best technical statistics in the playoffs. Add to that Viktor Fasth (38) who was a wall in the regular season and NHL-merited Christian Folin (30) who strengthened the team’s defensive during the season.
The older players in Växjö have definitely shown that they are not full this season. Several of them have many years in the club behind them and have shown what Växjö means to them.
The mental strength
It did not matter that Växjö ended up at a disadvantage, lost a lead or was forced to play double overtime periods. They always came back, in all match series.
The match before rarely played a role, not even if they were forced to defend themselves to a 1-0 victory, play a five-minute numerical disadvantage or end a match with five backs. They always bounced back regardless of opposition, just like in the fourth and fifth finals.
On the player side, there are most, previously mentioned, players who have been involved during several of Växjö’s strong years. But the basis for the success also lies in the continuity the club has been able to have on the leadership side.
Not least in coach Sam Hallam, but also with sports director Henrik Evertsson who has been in his post for over 15 seasons. Evertsson has been involved in lifting the team from the second highest series to several Swedish Championship golds. The club is prosperous on all levels. In the sports activities with juniors and seniors and in terms of the economy which is strong and the club has a good reputation in hockey-Sweden. Evertsson obviously knows what he’s doing.