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One Step at a Time

Jan 10, 2023
Written By: Andrew Streitel

Story by Andrew Streitel/Griffins

It’s an early, chilly Swedish morning and Pontus Andreasson is already up and about, heading to his part-time job as an electrician at Volvo to work a long shift before going to the rink to fine-tune his skills on the ice.

This was Andreasson’s reality until the end of the 2019-20 season, as the young forward tried to make a name for himself in the Swedish hockey ranks. Fortunately for him, things panned out and Andreasson was able to drop the part-time gig to focus all of his attention on his life-long dream of becoming an NHL player.

“It was fun [to work as an electrician at Volvo] but also very difficult. You get up early in the mornings and have long days at work and then you go play hockey at night,” explained Andreasson. “It was hard but it motivated me to get better so I could just play hockey.”

Several years before breaking from his trade, Andreasson was making his way through the junior ranks of Swedish hockey. The Munkedal native found himself in the Frolunda Indians HC youth program and had a breakout season in 2017-18. After just totaling three points (1-2—3) in 40 games at the J20 SuperElit level with the Indians, Andreasson exploded for 45 points (13-32—45) in just 44 appearances in the same league a year later.

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Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins

“When I came to Frolunda in the juniors, [hockey] became more serious and I trained a lot harder. I trained more often, lifted heavier weights and practiced every day,” said Andreasson. “That is when I turned the switch and realized that I could be someone in hockey.”

After totaling more than a point-per-game in 2017-18, Andreasson was loaned to Hanhals IF in the HockeyEttan, the third tier of professional hockey in Sweden. The youngster accumulated seven goals and three assists in just 11 games to end the season. That next campaign, teams started to take notice when Andreasson racked up 38 points (11-27—38) in as many games with Hanhals IF. He was then promoted to the HockeyAllsvenskan with IF Bjorkloven from 2019-21, the second-highest level of pro hockey in his home country. Andreasson finally made it to the promised land in Sweden in 2021-22, when he notched 38 points (18-20—38) in 52 appearances for Lulea HF in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting.

“When I was younger, I was always the smallest guy on the ice. So, I had to work harder in the gym and had to do it my own way [to make it to the SHL],” said Andreasson. “It was key for me to not rush into anything and take baby steps along the way. I think Frolunda might be one step ahead of the other teams in terms of its youth clubs. So, I think [a lot of players come from Frolunda] because of its development opportunities.”

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Photo by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins

Eighteen goals, 20 assists and a plus-19 rating were a solid stat line for a 23-year-old rookie in the SHL. However, things really got going for Andreasson during the 2022 SHL playoffs. He made a massive splash during his SHL postseason debut when he registered a hat trick on March 31, 2022 against Orebro HK to cap off a four-point night.

“It was an amazing experience. It is something that you think about before the game, you want to score a goal,” commented Andreasson. “That turned into a hat trick and it was so fun. It was a dream and an amazing thing.”

Andreasson did not stop there, as he went on to record 13 points (8-5—13) in 13 playoff contests en route to the SHL finals against Farjestad BK. Lulea fell in the championship two games to three, but this was just the beginning for the Swede.

“Playoffs last year in the SHL, it was the biggest thing in my career so far. It was so fun to be a part of that,” said Andreasson. “The intensity level raises in the postseason. It is so fun to play in those games and those are the games you want to be a part of and shine on the biggest stage.”

NHL teams took notice of the young talent that blossomed throughout the 2021-22 season. Eventually, the Detroit Red Wings beat out multiple teams and signed Andreasson to a one-year entry-level contract.

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Photo by Getty Images

“There were a couple of teams that reached out and called me. I had a good talk with the Detroit organization, and I was so happy to sign here,” said Andreasson. “It’s been a dream to sign [with a NHL team].”

Now, in his first season within an NHL organization, Andreasson is learning a new style of hockey and getting adjusted to life in North America. Although he struggled to find a rhythm offensively with just one point (0-1—1) in the first seven games, he has found his stride and now places fourth on the roster with 18 points (9-9—18) in 31 games.

“In the beginning it was hard for me with the smaller ice. The ice is smaller so I feel like I can shoot from every angle,” explained Andreasson. “It was something new to have to take the puck to the net. In Sweden, we want to slow down once we get in the zone and start to run plays. So, that part of the American game is new to me.”

It also certainly helps that the Griffins’ locker room is filled with European talent and four other Swedes to help Andreasson through the learning process.

“My English is not the best, so it is nice to have some Swedes in the locker room to help translate,” said Andreasson. “It is nice to have them around and it feels more like home.”

No matter the country or league, Andreasson is surely done with working part-time jobs as an electrician and can focus solely on providing a spark to his team and lighting up scoreboards.

Photo at top by Nicolas Carrillo/Griffins