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IIHF – The ascendent Carl Lindbom

Four months ago goalie Carl Lindbom watched his Swedish teammates at the World Juniors in Edmonton. And observed. And observed. He never got into a game, and the tandem of Jesper Wallstedt and Calle Clang led the team to a bronze medal.

Fast forward to Halifax after Christmas and Lindbom has played every minute of Sweden’s first three games while backups Ian Blomquist and Marcus Brannman watched and watched everything. And why not? Lindbom recorded two shutouts and allowed just two goals while maintaining a 3-0 record and stopping 74 of 76 total shots scored so far.

“I think I trust my game more, trust my hands, trust my eyes. I think I’m much better trained than I was then, much faster,” Lindbom said of his development in four short months. Developed by Djurgarden over many years, he currently plays for the top team in the Swedish league and is becoming a star, currently averaging a 1.78 GAA in 21 games.

But while his improvement on the ice is easy to see, it starts in the mind, growing mentally stronger and more psychologically insensitive to the ups and downs of stopping pucks. “The mental part comes through practice, trusting your instincts and trusting your edges. That’s the main part, learning to trust yourself,” he continued.

Lindbom rose to prominence a year and a half ago with the U18s in Frisco, Texas, where he played six out of seven games, winning four of them and shutting out in an emphatic 8-0 win over Finland to earn the bronze medal. “U20 is much faster,” he explained. “The game is easier, there are not many outliers. There is more structure, which makes it easier for me.”

The US U18s caught the scouts’ attention, but the result was mixed. Yes, he was drafted by Vegas in 2021, but he didn’t go before number 222. “It was unreal to be drafted,” he said. “I was so happy but a lot of my best buddies went way ahead of me. It spurred me on a bit, but I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the Vegas organization.”

Luckily, however, Lindbom didn’t personally attend the call-up and didn’t have to hear one name after another for almost two days. “I did not go. We were at a U20 tournament. We were actually playing a game at the same time the draft was taking place, so it was a weird experience but quite fun.”

Being drafted 222nd out of a total of 224 players doesn’t look good, but Lindbom hails from a wealthy hockey country where, paradoxically, many of his greatest players have gone similarly late in previous drafts. Note that Jonas Hoglund also turned 222 in 1992; Tomas Holmstrom went to 257 in 1994; Samuel Pahlsson 176th in 1996; Henrik Zetterberg 210 in 1999; Jonathan Ericsson291 in 2002; Patric Hornqvist 230 in 2005.

Lindbom is aware of this fact and adds: “My biggest idol, Henrik [Lundqvist], the king! In the seventh round he went way down [205th overall in 2000].”

“The first time I was in the Vegas locker room, they said you’re in the room. No matter where you were drafted, you’re in the room fighting for a spot. That spurred me on,” he remarked, approaching his future with the most positive perspective imaginable.

For now, however, Lindbom will try to help Sweden win a medal in Halifax. Then he will return to Djurgarden with no pressure and nothing else on his mind. The Golden Knights take their time with him.

“We take it day after day and season after season. We’ll see how I do this year and talk after that.”

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