Swedish forward Otto Stenberg warms up during pre-tournament play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Red Deer. (Photo by Erica Perreaux/ Hockey Canada Images)

Swedish forward Otto Stenberg warms up during pre-tournament play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Red Deer. (Photo by Erica Perreaux/ Hockey Canada Images)

Team Sweden led by promising young stars in Hlinka Gretzky Cup

Sweden will play first game Monday night

Team Sweden, led by Theo Lindstein and captain Otto Stenberg will look to make some noise in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

In an article in The Hockey News, Lindstein and Stenberg were ranked as two of the top 15 players in the tournament. Lindstein was described as a top defenceman and one of the most important players for the Swedes and Stenberg is known for his skills on the ice and goal scoring that leaves fans in awe.

Lindstein, who is six-foot, 179 pounds, will have plenty of scouts’ eyes on him during the tournament and is focused on playing well for his country.

“It’s always a pleasure to play with the national team and to play with the best players in your country,” he said. “I know there are scouts in the stands but I’m not thinking so much about it like I said before I’m trying to play my best for the team and do what I can for the team.”

Being acknowledged as one of the top defencemen in the under-18 showcase in Red Deer he said is not something he thinks about, although it is nice to hear. The 17-year-old within the last year played for Sweden at the U18 World Championship and in the U17 International Junior Games as well as 12 games in the Swedish Hockey League for Brynas IF.

In the Hlinka Gretzky Cup he said there’s only one player he has never touched the ice with on their roster so he’s confident they know how to play with one another and will play great hockey.

He has played hockey since he was seven years old and has always had a love for the game. He gave credit to his mom and dad who took him to the rink to introduce him to hockey and explained he enjoyed it the moment he began playing.

“I’ve always loved it. I like the speed, I like when you score and being with the team. It’s a team sport and I love it so that’s the passion for me to be with the guys and have fun on the ice,” Lindstein added.

The National Hockey League is the goal for the Swedish defenceman who will get the opportunity to showcase his skillset in front of over 200 professional scouts in Red Deer. He looks up to Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman, who is also from Sweden. Lindstein said he will sometimes watch Hedman for inspiration in his own skillset.

“I try to do what he’s doing so sometimes I watch some videos on him,” he explained.

Stenberg is no stranger to representing his country on the world stage as last year he played in the U18 World Championship and performed well for the U17 national team. Earlier in the year he also played in an under-18 Swedish league racking up 24 points in 12 games and again in the under-20 league adding 35 points in 38 games.

“I’m here to play my game and win hockey games,” said Stenberg, who had two goals and an assist in Sweden’s 4-1 win over Slovakia to open the tournament Monday.

The forward said playing for Sweden is fun and he is really proud to wear his country’s colours in an international tournament like the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. The captain said taking on a leadership role for the team has been an experience he has enjoyed and is looking forward to playing another tournament for his country. Stenberg will be a top prospect in the 2023 NHL Draft and scouts will be looking to see how he performs, which Stenberg admitted is something on his mind.

“Of course you know there are scouts here but I think It’s pretty easy to focus on the right things, play for Sweden and play as good as you can,” he said.

Back home in Sweden, Stenberg explained he doesn’t watch the NHL very often because most games are on when they’re asleep but watches a lot of highlights. His dream scenario is to make it to the NHL and play with or against his favourite player Sidney Crosby.

The young man gave credit to his dad, who was also his coach until he was 10 years old for introducing him to hockey.

“He has always supported me and helped me with everything, you know tips and how to tape the stick and everything,” Stenberg said.

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