The road to the youth SM-final in Sweden begins, as well as the masters, at Elitserien. But only at Junior-Elitserien for the players who are not older than 20 years. In the season of 2013-14 the oldest age at Junior-Elitserien is 1994 birth year. So each team has several young players aged from 16 to 20 who is regularly involved in the first master teams of their clubs. This factor gives the youth serie status of the real farm-clubs league whose master teams are no only represented at the swedish top bandy division Elitserien but also at Allsvenskan and the 1st Division — the second and the third by their significance country leagues as well.
Thus 10 of 14 farm-clubs of the youth league have their master teams at Elitserien, 2 at Allsvenskan and other 2 at the 1st Division. And there are no elder replacements allowed at the same time! Junior-Elitserien allows no players older than 20 to take part in it. There are few other but more lower merited leagues in Sweden’s championships for those older 20 who are out of competitions at the highest level.
Junior bandy championship of Sweden has a long history and had been played since 1955. A month ago teams of Junior-Elitserien started fighting for playoffs and the right to play in the Grand final at Friends Arena in Stockholm in March 2014. First rounds of XXXXXII championship of Sweden among youth have set priorities primarily on the top and bottom of standings identifying leaders and outsiders.
Västerås SK, Helenelunds IK and Falu BS are among those who definitely will not play in playoffs in 3 months. If such a result at serie for the last two mentioned is not the matter of principle, but a fairly poor farm-team of the great Västerås is not a pleasant discovery in itself. Does this mean that mesta mästarna has no nearest reserve and the future so on? Of couse not! Västerås has always been, is now and will be an elite club achieving the best results basically due to its own resources. But a trend to lower qualitative output from its junior school, whose fosters by the way 4 times won national junior championship, making the club leaders to reconsider concept of its development.
Desperate courage of Helenelunds, a team from Sollentuna that is within the Great Stockholm, for the second year in a row taking part at Junior-Elitserien but without even a slightest chance for success, deserves nothing more than a respectful attitude. Guys from HIK don’t afraid to look as the whipping boys. Participation at a regular serie of farm-clubs is only their opportunity to learn playing bandy and extend their lifes in the sport of big achievements on the national scene. Healthy ambitions of club’s management to build up a competitive master team, which is leading now at the Eastern subgroup of the 1st Division, to bring it soon to Allsvenskan are the main driving force here. It’s supposed that the core of this future team to be the guys who roll around Junior-Elitserien today.
Healthy sports ambitions and pragmatism of the new leaders of Falu BS, as well as in Sollentuna, allow not only retain bandy in another more classical bandy region of Sweden in Dalarna but also to look at the future with optimism. Finished last season with bankruptcy and degradation at Allsvenskan Falu BS was very close to if not to lose then certainly to cut down its bandy activities. But the new people however came to manage who understand how significant is bandy in Falun and how to start to build up their future. They contributed to save a master team which has been relegated to the 1st Division and to ensure existence of the entire bandy school in the city. Therefore a farm-club of Falu BS solves now other than just sports task at Junior-Elitserien and result for him as for Helenelunds is not the most important thing today.
IFK Vänersborg, the last year’s champion, is also among them who can not to go out to playoffs this season. Vänersborg disgracefully failed on the pre-seasonal stage of Svenska Cupen and it seems that club follows now a sad forecast being no longer a favorite of youth championship after 5 consecutive junior SM-finals. Well failure happens sooner or later to anyone but the fact that a squad of today’s farm-club from Vänersborg has those had already become a champion at this level during two previous years as well as there are many of those who are represented at a level of masters or at different national teams, so there are no explanations of disastrous season.
Those or other problems face this winter also three seemingly worth teams completed with high-class players: IK Sirius, Tillberga Bandy and IFK Kungälv. But if balancing on the border of playoffs for Sirius and Kungälv is a predicted characteristic, so risk for Tillberga to be in a dead zone is not justified by anything. It seems that junior bandy school in Västerås, where Tillberga is from also as VSK, is really in crisis.
Bollnäs GIF desperately resists to bad circumstances and it helps him more and more confidently to secure in a zone of the first eight that gives the right to go out to playoffs. Being yielded serie leaders Sandvikens AIK and Vetlanda BK on the start in a hard fight giffarna’s farm-club harvested then from a heaviest trip to Tillberga’s Västerås, Lidköping and Nässjö 5 points of 6 that is his entire asset at the moment. An achievement of only a mighty team. The team has no stars. But there is a powerful resource of motivation allowing to compensate a lack of mastery and to pull the points out of even more high-class rivals. Due to its warrior character Bollnäs literally gnaws out its wins.
Perhaps it can be said for sure that Nässjö IF, Villa-Lidköping BK and Hammarby IF will get into ¼ finals from the middle serie positions. These are the teams of an approximately equal class each having leaders of a national level. However not the sole leaders today provide results on a level of youth. Nowadays farm-club is actually a prototype of its master team where every brand of perfection represented but in its smaller copy. Therefore as at senior Elitserien at Junior-Elitserien as well is impossible to succeed without having a balanced in all the lines team which is subject to the same rules of competition as that on the highest level.
Sometimes it’s happened that the good order beats class. Latest results of Bollnäs are the best evidence of it. However the stars are a decoration for any bandy spectacle whether elite or youth series. Although the eldest birth year at Junior-Elitserien is 1994 this season but they are not those who define the game. Boys who were born a year later are the core playmakers today. It should be noted that the 95th birth year in Sweden perhaps is ever strongest at least for the modern swedish bandy history. Therefore there are more than 3 dozens at Junior-Elitserien of those who at the same time play for their clubs at a senior level with the vast majority of them are ones who were born in 1995.
The largest concentration of the brightest junior talents is observed today in 3 clubs: Vetlanda BK, Sandvikens AIK and Edsbyns IF. So namely these three are most likely to occupy top positions in a regular serie and hence to get into the final.
Vetlanda and Sandviken go undefeated. Both teams have excellent strike force and are bright representatives of their bandy schools. Their only difference is that VBK playing fast bandy based on so called rysskij hockey while SAIK traditionally weaving waltz laces. Commitment to their bandy schools is imposed on high-class performance and ability of the leaders to effectively implement alive all ideas and thoughts of their trainers.
Vetlanda has the whole scattering of star performers. Daniel Johansson, Pontus Vilen and Martin Landström can not only deliver a ball for the final shot to Filip Bringe but also themselves to put a goal end at a direct sweeping attack that is the most dangerous weapon of VBK. Guys like to play open bandy because they can do this very well and because they feel confident in their abilities. The whole team gets a clear pleasure of that is everything goes well. Vetlanda has not yet disclosed its painful points probably because the team has not yet been in critical situations. Its probably most critical moment in the season the team has already successfully passed in a very beginning, in the 3rd and 4th rounds, having gone on tour to Edsbyn and Bollnäs where from Vetlanda had taken 2 wins and a pretension to the absolute leadership. It’s no wonder that vast majority of coaches at Junior-Elitserien, 11 of 14, predicting Vetlanda to the champions this spring.
Sandviken has not yet gone through its moment of true in the season having the real trials to begin for him only after New Year when it will come time to meet all his main rivals for a high position in the serie allowing further benefits of its own field in playoffs. So far all is calm in the team now while a team’s mechanism driven by a group of players as Simon Blomkvist and Rasmus Linder functions perfectly. SAIK scores a lot and there are many of those who score. Viennese laces drawn by the team on the ice can bring anyone out to the final stage of attack and, in contrast to Vetlanda, almost everyone in SAIK can be a threat. This is a key difference of local bandy school which is a similar to all elite teams in Sandviken on any of levels beginning even from a youth one.
Edsbyns IF is the one who suffered most of the three leaders at the start of Junior-Elitserien. After having started quite well then the team on the eve of a crucial home match vs Vetlanda had lost its prominent leaders Klim Tarasenko and Oscar Wikblad who got very painful injuries and dropped out of the play for an uncertain time. Being deprived of its top creative and strike forces Edsbyn could offer a little first to Vetlanda in a one of the season’s major confrontation and second soon then to two rivals more at a heaviest tour to Nässjö and Lidköping thus having lost 5 points of 6 in 3 games. But nevertheless the leaders of Edsbyn are back to the game again and the team has nothing more than to make up for the losses. A task seems to be solved depending on how fast the team returnes to its former conditions.
Thus Junior-Elitserien has gained its turnover acquiring an intrigue of a very interesting bandy event. It comes more or less clear on those who should continue to fight for the one of most honorable bandy trophy in Sweden when the serie of farm-clubs will cross over its equator that is to be already in the first half of January.