Chris Wahl – 29.04.24

William Stromgren probably isn’t used to being the second-tallest player on his line.

At 6-foot-3, the Swedish forward stands out, but playing alongside Adam Klapka with the Calgary Wranglers, he’s perhaps K2 to his Czech winger’s Mount Everest.

It’s been a season of growth for Stromgren in this, his first full North American campaign, but the challenge of coming to North America has been one the Flames prospect has tackled head-on.

In 68 regular-season games, Stromgren collected 27 points, but 10 of those came over his final 11 appearances.

The exclamation point was Friday night at Tucson’s Convention Center Arena, when Stromgren danced through the Roadrunners defence to score one of the prettier goals of the season for the Wranglers, a tally that stood as the series clincher as Calgary upended the No. 2-seeded Roadrunners in a two-game sweep.


Highlight-reel plays haven’t always come easy for the 20-year-old this season.

His first year in Calgary has been a learning lesson, but as time has gone on, Stromgren’s started to feel more at home, and more confident on the smaller, North American playing surface.

“I think from the beginning of the season to now, I’m a completely different player,” he said. “I’ve said it also, hockey’s a confidence sport. If you’ve got good confidence, you’re probably going to make more plays.

“I feel like me, (Sam) Morton and Klapper, as a line right now, we’ve been doing a pretty good job, I think. You can feel confident playing with those guys, for sure.”

Which gets us back to the discussion on size.

As a bigger player, it’s almost an expectation to be willing to mix things up physically, to use your larger frame to your advantage.

Stromgren admits that, too, was an adjustment for him, but as the season has progressed, he’s started to realize that being one of the team’s bigger forwards has its perks.

“My game changed so much, coming here to North America and playing this style of hockey, you’ve got to use your body more. I feel like I’ve developed a lot since I came here,” Stromgren admitted.

Selected in the second round of the 2021 NHL Draft by Calgary, Stromgren is the latest in a long line of players to call Ornskoldsvik, Sweden home.

Peter Forsberg, Markus Naslund, the Sedin twins, and Victor Hedman all hail from the city, a pretty impressive list for a place with a slightly smaller population than Medicine Hat.

Stromgren and his peers arew up watching – and emulating – players like Daniel and Henrik Sedin, putting real, hometown faces to childhood dreams.

“It’s a really small town, but the biggest thing in the town is hockey; everyone goes to watch the games (the city is home to MoDo, an SHL side with two championships to its name),” he said. “We’re lucky to have these stars that came out (of Ornskoldsvik), they’re definitely fun to watch; they’re legends of the game.

“It makes a lot of difference in the town, to have kids want to play like them.”

Back on this side of the pond, Stromgren is doing what he can to follow suit, to become the next hometown hero to make an impact in the North American game.

And that next step is with the Wranglers, and their bid to bring plenty more playoff hockey to the Scotiabank Saddledome as they chase the Calder Cup.

For Stromgren, the sweep in Tucson was only the start, with the top-ranked Coachella Valley Firebirds next on tap in a best-of-five set that begins Friday night at home. TICKETS

“I think it was good to come in as underdogs, playing our hockey and having good games here,” he said. “I feel like the group got together perfectly for these kind of games.

“Got to get ready again here, with (Coachella Valley) coming up, (it’s) an even bigger challenge than this.”