Heading into this season, Anton Karlsson was not a name most fans of the Cleveland Monsters had heard of before. On April 25th, 2019, the Monsters signed the undrafted defenseman out of the Swedish Hockey League where he spend the past six seasons playing for Linkopings HC. Due to Karlsson’s willingness to sacrifice his body and mirror the netminders, Karlsson has begun to impress more and more people every day.
So, I decided to sit down with Karlsson to discuss what it’s like playing in North America, how he views himself as a defenseman, and what he thinks of the city of Cleveland.
Elaine Shircliff: This is your first year playing in North America. Explain the differences you have faced thus far.
Anton Karlsson: Well like you said, it’s a whole new adventure for me coming here and uh something that I have been wanting to do for a couple of years. Tried my best overseas and tried a small rink and the more kind of physical play and quicker on the big ice. My thoughts were I was probably going to regret it after my career if I didn’t show up here and try it. I’m just happy to be here, on this team, and in this organization.
ES: What kind of things did you have to adjust in your own game to be able to blend in here?
AK: I would say it’s a different game for sure. The small ice surface makes it different than I’m used to. You need to be aware of every situation and kind of figure out how to get the puck up North quicker. Back home it’s a little more of a different play. Maybe hold onto the puck a little bit more. Here you need to make a quicker decision. That’s what I’m working on everyday with my coaches and teammates.
ES: How hard is it for you to move across the ocean from your family, your friends. Or do you know that’s just part of what it takes to do what you’re doing?
AK: I mean obviously they know what this is about and what I have to sacrifice. I’m 26 years old and they are fully aware of what I’m going through. They help me a lot. Family is important for me and they made me become the person I am today. I try my wings here and kind of get out of the comfort zone many European players are used to back home. Try to play in the best league.
ES: Lately you’ve been getting in the crease, mirroring the goalie, and pushing forwards out of the crease. Is that something you find important to do?
AK: I don’t know if it’s good or bad. I guess it’s some reflex. You want to protect the net as good as possible. Sometimes it just takes over and I become a second goalie there.
ES: Do you find it important to be an extension of the goalie?
AK: I mean for sure. It’s a big part of my game to help my goalie as much as I can with having my body in the way of the puck and sacrifice myself in that way and eat those pucks is a big part of my game. I put a lot of , how do you say, I try to adjust my game to stop pucks myself as much as possible.
ES: You have two points this season. Probably could have had a few more goals if the goalie didn’t pull out fantastic saves on them. Do you find it important as a defender to also play both sides of the puck?
AK: If the opportunity comes I will try to use my skate to be an offensive play as well. I will say that’s a bonus for me to do those kinds of things. I’m a defensive defender and take more pride in being a second goalie than doing points.
ES: What are your goals for the rest of the season?
AK: Take one day at a here. There are a lot of games you can’t be too spread out in your mind. I’ve always said in my career, take one day at a time. Yes, work hard every day and see what happens.
ES: What has been your favorite part of Cleveland? You haven’t been to Cleveland before this, right?
AK: Never before. This is my first time here. I like the town. I like the team. I like the fans, the building, the atmosphere. I was positive about coming here and so far, so great.