Ice hockey is one of the most popular sports in Sweden: Watching or playing the frosty game is a favourite local pastime, and Sweden’s national team belongs to the best in the world. Seeing the action on the ice is an absolute must-do when you study in Sweden, and experiencing the unique atmosphere in the stadium is also a great way to fight the winter blues.
League games are usually held from September until March. And you will have plenty of opportunities to watch, regardless of where you study in Sweden - successful hockey clubs and their stadiums are spread out across the country. We have picked the most notable ones in our journey from North to South:
The small city of Luleå is home to Sweden’s northernmost university, the Luleå University of Technology. Its students make up almost 20% of the local population. With average monthly temperatures below freezing for six to eight months of the year, you can expect lots of snow and ice when you study in Luleå. No wonder then that the locals enjoy winter sports, and ice hockey is no exception: Local team Luleå HF has consistently played in the country’s top league, the SHL, for over thirty years. One of the team’s best-known exports was Mattias Öhlund, who went on to play for the Vancouver Canucks and became one of their best-scoring defenders.
Uppsala is often called “the student capital of Sweden”, and rightly so: Uppsala University is the country’s oldest and ranks among the top 20 universities in Europe; and together with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, there are some 50,000 students in town. Not to forget that Uppsala’s student parties are famous, or should we say notorious, across the whole country.
In terms of ice hockey, however, the city is not quite as successful yet: Local club Almtuna IS has been playing in the country’s second league for well over a decade with moderate - but increasing - success.
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Karlstad, a small city just North of the country’s largest lake, is the home of the most successful ice hockey club in Sweden: Färjestad BK. Karlstad is also a lovely student city where one in six inhabitants study at Karlstad University. The young university offers a number of Master’s degrees in English, mostly in subjects relating to Business and IT.
There are many reasons to study abroad in Stockholm: stunningly beautiful architecture and parks, some of the best universities in the world (like Stockholm University or the Royal Institute of Technology), and a vibrant community of international students and other expats. Among the countless activities awaiting you for your spare time, watching ice hockey is something you can’t miss!
The most successful local club is Djurgårdens IF. Although it’s been a while since their last major victory, they have played in Sweden’s top division for over 70 years, and many of their players went on to world fame - think Mats Sundin or Kent Nilsson. Like the men, the women’s team of DIF play in the premier league.
But ice hockey in Stockholm doesn’t end there: The other local giant, AIK, enjoys a solid fanbase, as well. AIK has spawned some of ice hockey’s greatest players, including legendary Börje Salming - one the first Europeans to become a popular player in the American NHL, and the first Swedish player elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. AIK’s men’s team currently plays in the second tier and is one of the strongest contenders in its league, while the women have made it to the Swedish championship finals ten times over the past twenty years.
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Örebro HK is a relatively young ice hockey club: It was founded in 1990, back when the other local club Örebro IK was still playing in the second tier. ÖIK sadly went bankrupt in 1999, but Örebro HK prevailed and made it into the SHL in recent years. Örebro University is also among the younger universities in Sweden: Founded in 1977, it has grown to more than 15,000 students, and attracts many internationals to the various Master’s programmes that are available in English. The university is particularly well-renowned for their hospital and their study programmes in Medicine. Unfortunately, detailed hospital statistics about hockey-related injuries weren’t available.
Gothenburg’s preeminent ice hockey club is Frölunda HC, also known as the “Frölunda Indians”. The name goes back to an old nickname, the “Wild Westerners” - relating to the fact that Sweden’s second-largest city is located on the country’s West coast. Their fans, too, are known to be a wild bunch, although facial paint is much less common in their home stadium than you would expect with such a nickname. But it’s not only the local ice hockey following that make Göteborg an attractive student city. Its two local universities, the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology, rank among the best in Europe and make for a vibrant and international student community.
In Sweden’s far South, the Malmö Redhawks play in the league’s largest stadium, and audiences are guaranteed a spectacle - especially when the Redhawks play against their regional arch rival Rögle BK. Reason enough to join for a match if you become one of the 15,000 students who study at Malmö University - or the small, specialised World Maritime University. And those who study at Lund University in the neighbouring town are also cordially invited: After all, it’s only a 10-minute train ride away!
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