Eriksson lives Swede dream

As childhood dreams go, this one is pretty great.

Loui Eriksson was 9 when Peter Forsberg scored the most

famous goal in Swedish hockey history, a one-handed slide in the

shootout that won the 1994 Olympic gold medal over Canada. It was a

play that made Forsberg Eriksson’s hockey hero growing up and

cemented the Olympics as an ultimate goal for kids throughout

Goteborg, Sweden.

So when Eriksson was informed Sunday morning that he had been

named to Sweden’s 23-man roster for the 2010 Olympics that will be

played in Vancouver in February, and that Forsberg would be his

teammate, it was like a childhood dream coming true. Forsberg, 36,

has battled injuries for the last few seasons, and this will be his

last Olympics. So the fact it’s Eriksson’s first chance is a

strange sort of Swedish kismet.

“That was such a big game, and it was something that we all

remember so much, it was a great, great day,” Eriksson said of the

1994 game that is remembered like the 1980 Miracle on Ice in the

United States. A painting of the goal was even made into a stamp in

Sweden.

“He was the player I looked up to the most, so to get the

chance to play on the same team, it’s just something I never

imagined.”

Eriksson’s star has been rising briskly over the last two

seasons. The 24-year-old winger struggled to score goals in his

first two NHL seasons, but then put in 36 last season to lead

Dallas. This year, he is second on the Stars in scoring with 35

points (12 goals, 23 assists). He is fast becoming the team’s best

defensive forward and is plus-19 for his career.

“It wasn’t surprising, and I think he’ll play really well for

them. He’s that level of player now,” Stars coach Marc Crawford

said. “He’s such a good skater, and he’s so strong on the puck.

He’s a complementary player, and I think he can play with just

about anybody.”

Even Forsberg, possibly?

“I know he has played well in his comeback, and he can do so

many things,” Eriksson said of Forsberg’s battle to come back from

chronic foot injuries. “I think he will be a great player for us.”

In addition to Forsberg, Sweden has a loaded lineup that will

include Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg of the Red Wings,

Henrik and Daniel Sedin of the Canucks, Nicklas Backstrom of the

Capitals and Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Sweden won the gold

medal at the 2006 Olympics in Italy.

“It’s a very good team, and I know they are looking forward

to defending their title,” Eriksson. “It will be a big challenge

with lots of teams coming after us, but I’m looking forward to it.”

It will also be a big challenge for Eriksson. He signed a

four-year contract extension with the Stars that will pay him an

average salary of $4.25 million starting next season, and he is

seen as one of the stalwarts on Swedish Olympic teams for years to

come.

“I think it is important,” Crawford said of the selection.

“It shows that he’s taking the steps along the way.”