By Jack Loennecker
Christoffer Jakobsson glided down the ice and into position for a faceoff to the left of the goaltender on Jan. 26 at Floyd Hall Arena. The puck was sent back and landed perfectly on to Jakobsson’s blade. With a snap of the wrists, he shot the puck under the Montclair State goalie’s arm, and there it was. The player who had journeyed from Sweden to New Jersey had his first collegiate goal.
Jakkobson is the only player on the William Paterson University hockey team who is not from the United States. He was born and raised in Halmstad, Sweden. Jakobsson came to the United States in 2015, and ended up on a team with teenagers in New Jersey. Eventually he followed one of them to William Paterson University. Jakobsson believes he is making the most of his stay in America by playing hockey.
“I think it’s very educational for me,” he said. “It teaches me interaction that no schooling can teach.”
The Swedish forward came a long way for his hockey career. The 21-year-old freshman, started playing hockey when he was 9 and while he did have a successful junior hockey career in Sweden, junior hockey there lasts one season shorter than in North America. This prompted Jakobbson to look for other opportunities to continue his hockey career.
“I wanted to do something fun and get experience not only on the ice but off the ice,” said Jakobsson. So, I just googled and found out the New Jersey Junior Titans had a try out in the summer. I went over and I really liked their organization.”
In one season with the Titans, Jakobsson scored 50 goals in 40 games, and with 40 assists his point total was 90 for the season. After playing for the Titans, WPU became the next stop in his journey.
His success was immediate. In three games to start his collegiate hockey career the Swedish forward has notched six points, one assist on Jan. 21 in a 5-3 win against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, his first goal on Jan. 26 in a 8-4 win over Montclair State and two goals and two assists in a 7-1 win over Central Connecticut State on Jan. 28.
Jakobsson, a finance major was excited to put the puck in the net for his first goal and even happier to come out with the victory.
“It was fun, but the most important thing is we got three points from this game,” Jakobsson said after the game against William Paterson’s rival Montclair.
The Swedish playmaker also feels comfortable with his new team and commended his teammates on being a fun group to play with.
“He is a creative player who has good speed and plays the game hard,” said Pioneers Head Coach Joe Ballance. “He adds an element to our team which complements our style of play.”
One William Paterson hockey player had a major impact on Jakobsson even before he started the semester. Jakobsson brought his talents to WPU not only because of the team’s reputation, but because of his friend and Junior Titans teammate Scott Huber.
“When I played juniors, I lived with Scott Huber’s family and he decided to go here and then I just jumped on board because WPU is probably one of the best ACHA programs in the nation,” Jakobsson saidi.
Huber, a 20-year-old finance major from Middletown, started playing for the Pioneers in the fall. Jakobsson still stays with the Huber family when he’s not in Sweden.
“It’s great, he’s like a brother to me,” Huber said.
Growing up in Sweden, Jakobsson looked up to many Swedish hockey players.
“My favorite hockey team is Leksands IF in the Swedish Hockey League. But in the NHL, it is the Detroit Red Wings since they had nine Swedish players so we always got the recap from that team on Swedish television,” he said. “My favorite players are Peter Forsberg and Niklas Lidström. But my favorite player active today is Erik Karlsson.”
Jakobosson’s favorite players have left their mark on the game of hockey. Forsberg won two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche while Lidström won four Stanley Cups with the Red Wings. Erik Karlsson currently serves as captain for the Ottawa Senators and is a two-time Norris Trophy winner.
Since coming to America in the fall of 2015, Jakobsson has had no issue making friends and adapting to American culture.
“I settled in to the culture while playing juniors. The Huber family, Debbie, Jim, Scott, Matt, James and Grandma Treesh really helped me a lot since I lived with them and they really made me feel like one in the family, and my junior coach Todd Wagenbach was very helpful. At WPU the coaches and the captains and Scott really helped me settle in, then of course my family in Sweden who always believes in me,” Jakobsson explained “I had my junior team and Scott and his brothers so I made friends quickly.”
While Jakobsson still lives in Middletown, he does go back to visit Sweden in the summer, but he still misses his mom Camilla, his dad Christer and sister Moa while he’s in New Jersey.
“Yes, I miss my family and friends back in Sweden. But I don’t really get home sick I just miss my family and friends,” Jakobsson said.
Luckily Jakobsson’s family still comes to visit him in the U.S. from time to time.
When asked where he sees this team in the future Jakobsson said, “I see myself and my teammates playing good games out in Ohio” where the 2017 ACHA tournament will be taking place this spring.