By Gabriel Armistead Chapman
This week, I caught up with junior goaltender Mattias Soderqvist of the Lawrence University Men’s Hockey team. The Swede was awarded the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Defensive Player of the Week after recording his first career shutout in a 2-0 win over Concordia (Wis.) University on Jan. 9, and stopping 40 shots in a rematch the next night that resulted in a 2-2 tie. This past Friday, Soderqvist logged his second shutout against Aurora University in a dominant 7-0 win at the Appleton Family Ice Center.
Gabe Chapman: Congratulations on being Defensive Player of the Week. What was your reaction after finding out you got the award?
Mattias Soderqvist: I mean it’s always fun to get things like that. I was just happy that we played really well. We played great last weekend as a team and this weekend as well, so I’m just happy that we’re starting to find progress and get better each week.
GC: This is your third time winning the award.
MS: Yeah, I got it twice last year and once this year. It’s not super important, but it’s always fun to get that award—but to me it’s more about winning the games. We got seven out of eight points these past two weekends and that put us in a really good position.
GC: Did winning it this time feel any different? Does it feel like you’ve been playing better and improving?
MS: I’ve been feeling good. Last year was really good for me. I had a really good year personally. This year didn’t start off as I wanted it to, but I’ve been working really hard and just believing in myself, and now it’s been paying off and that’s really nice. But I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. It doesn’t change anything; it’s fun and I’m honored, but I’m just going to keep going.
GC: What is it that you think has been contributing to your success?
MS: I try to stay really calm, and my job is to give the team a chance to win every game. I know if I can stay calm, have good body language and make the saves I’m supposed to, it gives our team really good energy that spreads to other guys, so we can get things going. So, I’m just trying to stay calm and save the pucks I’m supposed to save.
GC: You guys have been playing really well lately. What do you think has contributed to that—apart from your great goaltending?
MS: These past two weeks we’ve been blocking a lot of shots, and that makes a huge difference. It’s not only that the pucks don’t go to the net—it’s energy. So when someone blocks a shot, everyone sees that and wants to do it and contribute to the team. And I think we’ve played really solid defense, got the pucks out, and talked a lot.This Friday we scored seven goals, so we also did some good things in the offensive zone as well. It’s just clicked these past two weekends, and I feel like it’s a progress—as I said the year didn’t start off as we wanted it to. But we’ve been working really hard, and when you do that and believe in something it’s going to pay off. We’re still learning and coming together, but right now it’s going well for us.
GC: What do you want to do to keep this good momentum moving?
MS: I work hard everyday; that’s all I can do. We have ten games left, so just not holding back and giving everything I’ve got and then take it from there. Our goal is obviously playoffs so we just need to take these next five weekends and see where we are.
GC: You’re from Sweden. How did you come to Lawrence? Was it hockey?
MS: Yeah it was hockey. I played junior hockey in Indianapolis for one year and then in Dallas for a couple of months, and then I heard about the school through Kalle Larsson, who was an assistant coach my freshman year and is also from Sweden. I talked to him over the summer and came to visit before I went down to Dallas. I really enjoyed it. Academics has always been really important for me, so I wanted to go to a school where I could get a good education while playing hockey. It was a good fit for me.