I recently got to speak with HIFK forward Anton Lundell. The 2001 born center spent most of the past season with the U20 team, scoring 20 points in 22 games. Lundell has represented the Finnish youth national teams in several tournaments. His current contract with HIFK runs through the 2020-21 season. Lundell is eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft.
When did you start playing hockey? Were you a skater or a goalie at the time?
I started to play hockey when I was four years old and went to a hockey school. I had already been skating prior that, but at the age of four I started the hockey school. I liked more to be a skater as a young kid, I did try to play as a goalie, but it was nicer to be a skater, though.
Now that you have been training with the Liiga team, how has it felt?
Training with the Liiga team has felt good and it has gone well. Of course the pace is a little bit faster and the quality of passes is a little bit better. Everything is done a bit more thoroughly.
You have won the national championship both in the U18 and U16 leagues. Are these two HIFK teams comparable – are there certain similarities?
Of course there were many same players in the U16 team and then later in the U18 team. We had good team spirit all the time and a good level of performance in both teams. Those are probably the biggest things that led to the championships.
How would you describe yourself as a player? What are your biggest strengths?
I would describe myself as a two-way forward who can make plays and create scoring chances for himself and linemates. My strengths are in the offensive zone and as I said, I can also defend well. I’m strong at face-offs and good with the puck.
Which area do you think requires most improvement?
Of course you can always improve skating, it is never good enough. And when the level of play goes higher, skating is even more important as you have to be able to keep up with the pace. I also need to gain more strength for battles.
Have you set some certain goals for this season?
Of course I’m aiming to get games in the Liiga. But I try to do everything as well as I can, both on and off the ice, and then it’s up to the coach to decide where I play.
Which goals do you have in the long term for your career?
Of course it has always been a dream to play in the NHL. Hopefully to play in the Liiga and go from there to the NHL some day.
What is your favorite memory from your career thus far?
The U18 World Championship gold from last season. It’s the kind of a memory that you will never forget.
What kind of an experience was the tournament?
It was an unbelievable experience in every way. The teammates were great and the team was amazing, we played well together. We went one game at a time and things started rolling well.
Since your father is a former goalie, has he given any tips on how to beat goalies to score?
Every now and then we talk about it. He does give advice when asked. It is interesting to think from the goalie’s view in the net, what would be the most difficult shot for the goalie to save. We’ve talked about it a little bit, but not really a whole lot.