Hockey Night in Sweden

Parksville-Qualicum News

March 20, 2008

FORMER GENERALS DARCY Corcoran, left, and Henry Acres are in the midst of a playoff run with Asploven.

By JAMES CLARKE

From overseas comes word two former Generals are helping lift Asploven HC in Sweden to playoff success.

Veteran defenceman, Henry ‘Hank’ Acres and first year winger Darcy Corcoran have been instrumental in Asploven making it to the final qualifying round of Hockey Allsvenskan, (the same league Eddy Belfour is presently playing in).

After winning a thrilling best of three playoff series against the Orebro Vipers, losing the first game on the road and then winning two straight at home, Asploven will now play an eight-game, home and home round robin series against teams from all over Sweden. The series got underway this week. The final round features three teams from division one (central, western and southern champions) and one relegated team from Allsvenskan. The top two teams after this series are promoted to the elite Hockey Allsvenskan league.

In an e-mail correspondence with The News, Hank explained that Orebro, the seventh-largest city in Sweden, a one-and-a-half hour drive west of Stockholm, and the richest team in Div. 1 (think New York Rangers) has been pushing the past few years to get back into Hockey Allsvenskan.

Orebro brought in three players from Elite Series at the transfer deadline that they believed would take them to the next level. Asploven in the northern city of Haparanda has 1/4 of the operating budget of Orebro and a population slightly larger and not that much younger than Qualicum.

“This is a huge deal for this city and for us to take a place in Allsvenskan would be as big for the city as it was when Ikea set up shop in town,” said Acres, adding such a scenario would be comparable to Parksville getting an ECHL team.

“The fans were great in the home games we had against Orebro, and you could feel the energy they created carrying our play. I hope it continues in this next series,” said Acres, the lead scoring D-man with eight goals and 26 assists for 34 points in 35 games thus far.

The seasoned veteran also leads the team in plus/minus with an impressive + 41 rating.

Asploven has a stellar record this season through 38 games with 30 wins, 3 losses, 3 OT losses and 2 ties.

Corcoran, or Corcs to his friends back home, is in his first season in Europe — he joined the team after Halloween and after a slower-than-hoped start to his European career due to a knee injury, has come on as the competition has gotten tougher. Corcs led the team in scoring during the Allettan (first playoff round robin for teams in the north), with 12 goals, and 13 assists for 25 points in 22 games.

“Sweden has been a great experience,” Corcoran said of his first pro posting. “The hockey is fast, the players very skilled, and surprisingly big and strong. I have gotten better, and we are playing with great confidence.

“The biggest adjustment has been the language during practice, but everybody can speak English and the guys are great and we help each other out.”

Both players have also been conducting some practices for players in Asploven’s minor hockey system.

The Swedish system is set up this way so most associations have an A-league team and the players, especially the imports, help pass on their knowledge to develop the next players for the A-league, explained Acres,.

“Of course when it’s just Darcy and I running a practice, there are some language barriers, but the kids love having us as their coaches.”

"They understand when you draw the drills on the board.”

Corcoran will be returning to Oceanside when the season concludes in mid-April. Both plan on teaming up with their pals on the Bandits to compete at the annual Easter tournament here in Parksville. Acres plans on heading back to run an international version of his Acres Hockey Training in Oulu, Finland in mid-June.