Andreasson taking it one step at a time

Photo: Nicolas Carrillo

📝 by Andrew Streitel | AHL On The Beat

It’s an early, chilly Swedish morning and Pontus Andreasson is already up and about, heading to his part-time job as an electrician at Volvo to work a long shift before going to the rink to fine-tune his skills on the ice.

This was Andreasson’s reality until the end of the 2019-20 season, as the young forward tried to make a name for himself in the Swedish hockey ranks.

Fortunately for him, things panned out and Andreasson was able to drop the part-time gig to focus all of his attention on his life-long dream of becoming an NHL player.

“It was fun but also very difficult,” the current Grand Rapids Griffins forward said of his work at Volvo. “You get up early in the mornings and have long days at work and then you go play hockey at night. “It was hard but it motivated me to get better so I could just play hockey.”

Several years before breaking from his trade, Andreasson was making his way through the junior ranks of Swedish hockey. The Munkedal native found himself in the Frolunda Indians HC youth program and had a breakout season as a 19-year-old in 2017-18: After just totaling three points in 40 games, Andreasson exploded for 45 points (13 goals, 32 assists) in just 44 appearances a year later.

“When I came to Frolunda in the juniors, [hockey] became more serious and I trained a lot harder. I trained more often, lifted heavier weights and practiced every day,” said Andreasson. “That is when I turned the switch and realized that I could be someone in hockey.”

After totaling more than a point-per-game in 2017-18, Andreasson was loaned to Hanhals IF in the third tier of professional hockey in Sweden. He accumulated seven goals and three assists in just 11 games to end the season, and then racked up 38 points in 38 games in 2018-19. Andreasson was promoted to the second-tier Allsvenskan with IF Bjorkloven, and finally reached the Swedish Hockey League in 2021-22, when he notched 38 points (18g, 20a) in 52 appearances for Lulea HF and finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting.

“When I was younger, I was always the smallest guy on the ice. So, I had to work harder in the gym and had to do it my own way,” said Andreasson of getting to the SHL. “It was key for me to not rush into anything and take baby steps along the way. I think Frolunda might be one step ahead of the other teams in terms of its youth clubs.”

Eighteen goals, 20 assists and a plus-19 rating were a solid stat line for a 23-year-old rookie in the SHL. However, things really got going for Andreasson during the 2022 SHL playoffs. He made a massive splash during his postseason debut when he registered a hat trick on March 31, 2022, against Orebro HK to cap off a four-point night.

Photo: Nicolas Carrillo

“It was an amazing experience. It is something that you think about before the game, you want to score a goal,” commented Andreasson. “That turned into a hat trick and it was so fun. It was a dream and an amazing thing.”

Andreasson did not stop there, as he went on to record 13 points in 13 playoff contests en route to the SHL finals against Farjestad BK. Lulea fell in the championship three games to two.

“Playoffs last year in the SHL, it was the biggest thing in my career so far. It was so fun to be a part of that,” said Andreasson. “The intensity level raises in the postseason. It is so fun to play in those games and those are the games you want to be a part of and shine on the biggest stage.”

NHL teams took notice of the young talent that blossomed throughout the 2021-22 season. Eventually, the Detroit Red Wings beat out multiple teams and signed Andreasson to a one-year entry-level contract.

“There were a couple of teams that reached out and called me. I had a good talk with the Detroit organization, and I was so happy to sign here,” said Andreasson. “It’s been a dream to sign.”

Now, in his first season within an NHL organization, Andreasson is learning a new style of hockey and getting adjusted to life in North America. Although he struggled to find a rhythm offensively with just one point, an assist, in his first seven games, he has found his stride and now places fourth on the Griffins roster with 18 points (9g, 9a) in 32 games.

“In the beginning it was hard for me with the smaller ice. The ice is smaller so I feel like I can shoot from every angle,” explained Andreasson. “It was something new to have to take the puck to the net. In Sweden, we want to slow down once we get in the zone and start to run plays. So, that part of the American game is new to me.”

It also certainly helps that the Griffins’ locker room is filled with European talent and four other Swedes to help Andreasson through the learning process.

“My English is not the best, so it is nice to have some Swedes in the locker room to help translate,” said Andreasson. “It is nice to have them around and it feels more like home.”

No matter the country or league, Andreasson is surely done with working part-time jobs as an electrician and can focus solely on providing a spark to his team and lighting up scoreboards.