On November 8th and 9th, the Buffalo Sabres faced off against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden. This is the third time the Sabres have played overseas , the first being in Helsinki, Finland against the Anaheim Ducks (The Sabres won 4-1) and the second being in Berlin, Germany against the Los Angeles Kings (The Sabres won 4-2). Twenty-one years ago, the Sabres and the Lightning went to Austria together on a preseason tour, both beating an Austrian club team before Buffalo beat Tampa Bay, 3-1. So it’s safe to say that both teams have history overseas.
Surprisingly, with the Sabres roster consisting of 24 players, they have six Swedes on their team. The six Swedes consist of Linus Ullmark (Goalie), Rasmus Dahlin (Defenceman), Victor Olofsson (Left Winger), Marcus Johansson (Center), Johan Larsson (Center), and Lawrence Pilut (Defenceman). It seems slightly strange that ¼ of the team is from Sweden but there seems to be a reason for it. According to The Buffalo News, the Sabres general manager, Jason Botterill stated,” They’ve done an amazing job in the development of hockey players, growth of the rinks.” Clearly, Botterill wants to draft more and more Swedish players because the SHL (Swedish Hockey League) has trained their players so well. But Botterill has also stated (again, according to The Buffalo News), “Every time you go over there for a tournament, it’s done right. It’s fun traveling around the country. And for our players from there to get to play in front of family and friends is a special opportunity.” This is one of the main reasons that the Sabres enjoy playing in Sweden but they have also gained a lot of love from Swedish fans since the drafting of Dahlin (2018) and Olofsson (2014).
While this game ended in defeat for the Sabres, it was still an interesting one to watch. Tampa Bay had a 2-0 lead by the end of the first period with Nikita Kucherov (Right Winger) scoring the first goal just 3:19 in and Alex Killorn (Center) scoring the second with 3:46 remaining. Bringing it back for the Sabres, Sam Reinhart (Center) tipped a shot in with an assist from Rasmus Ristolainen with 4:17 remaining in the second. They originally called it for high contact but it was later overturned. Then, Yanni Gourde (Forward) scored off Patrick Maroon’s (Left Winger) rebound to get the Lightning back up to a two-goal lead. Just less than four minutes later though, Reinhart came right back with his second goal of the night. It may not have been enough to get a hat trick, but it was still pretty impressive.
The game was even more significant because of the location in which it was played. The Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden is the largest hemispherical building, seating about 14,000 people. It also has a tram car going along the outside of the building, allowing people to get a panoramic view of the city. The Ericsson Globe is, in layman’s terms, the Madison Square Garden of Sweden. It is an extremely famous building so even though the game may have been a bump in the road for the 2019-2020 Buffalo Sabres season, it’s still impressive that they got to play there at all.