The Alliance of European Hockey Clubs welcomes Swedish IK Oskarshamn as member #90. Oskarshamn is an emerging power in the Swedish Hockey League, having been promoted to the SHL only in 2019.
Oskarshamn was the last missing Swedish piece for the Alliance of European Hockey Clubs. With the club from the town of the same name from the south-eastern coast of Sweden as a member, all SHL clubs are now affiliated with the E.H.C. Alliance.
“We have been thinking for a while to join the Alliance, but we wanted first to make sure that we would be part of the SHL for the next season before we took the decision,” said the club’s CEO Martin Åkerberg. “Now we hope to contribute to the growth of professional hockey in Europe and for a good partnership with the E.H.C.”
The Swedish SHL was the only one of Europe’s major pro leagues that maintained its relegation and promotion system for the pandemic-affected 2020/21 season, so obviously there was a theoretical risk of relegation for the club which was in its only second season in the nation’s top league.
But by finishing in 11th place out of 14 teams, Oskarshamn eventually created a comfortable distance to the clubs placed 13 and 14 who were involved in a nerve-racking relegation series.
The system with promotion on sportive criteria served Oskarshamn well in 2019. After having gone through the regular season in the second-tier Hockeyallsvenskan and the ensuing qualification process, the club finally met Timrå IK from the top league in a best-of-seven do-or-die series. Oskarshamn did it in seven games and the date 8 April 2019 – when they won the final game – will forever be etched in the club’s history.
“There are many reasons why we are very happy to welcome IK Oskarshamn to the Alliance,” said E.H.C. Managing Director Szymon Szemberg. “Aside from the obvious, it is very encouraging that ambitious clubs from smaller communities still can reach the top national level. Oskarshamn serves as a good example for other clubs, about what can be accomplished if you work hard, although with limited means.”
Oskarshamn is a coastal town of around 19 000 inhabitants and where hockey was introduced in 1947. Today’s IK Oskarshamn was born on 27 May 1970 following the merger of IFK Oskarshamn and Oskarshamns AIK and the new club assumed the name of IK70. In those days, the club played on the fourth national league level.
The club eventually became known as IK Oskarshamn in 1984 and it slowly began to climb through the national ranks. They earned promotion to the second-tier Allsvenskan in 1996 and played there for 23 consecutive seasons before the club finally made it to the SHL in 2019. They play out of the 3275-capacity Be-Ge Hockey Center, the smallest arena in the SHL, which was built in 1974.
But what the club lacks in history and other resources (in comparison with the SHL giants), they compensate for with smartness and grit. IKO is very well-coached by 39-year-old Martin Filander, with former NHLer and Swedish national team forward Mathias Tjärnqvist as one of the assistants.
The coaching staff was widely praised by observers midway through the season when the team went through a very tough stretch of 16 consecutive defeats, but the team never wavered from its course, stayed together as a group and managed not to get involved in relegation troubles.
The Alliance of European Hockey Clubs welcomes IK Oskarshamn to our membership.