|Palmkvist - the Bears last line of defence
Swedish import goalkeeper Daniel Palmkvist has been the backbone of the Sydney Bears this season. Through the Bears hot first five starts to the lows of the Bears’ nine game losing streak, he has stood tall and kept the Bears in many contests. Palmkvist has a league leading 18 games played and 636 shots on net and is tied third with a 0.907 save percentage.
The 25-year old played as a forward in his early days before stepping into the pipes with a career highlight representing his home country in 2005 in an under 16 international tournament. Palmkvist has played at a variety of levels in Sweden, France and the States and jumped at the opportunity to come to Australia and get more game time after visa problems saw him miss out on playing in the SPHL.
Friends had recommended the AIHL to him, including a couple of the Melbourne Ice imports. The Bears goalie views the quality of the league as “a little bit different; it’s not really like European hockey but it’s still good.”
Palmkvist trains in the gym everyday and gets on ice once or twice a week to practice outside of games. With such extensive experience under his belt, Palmkvist had some advice for local goalkeepers.
“Be good at skating,” Palmkvist said. “If you’re good at skating you can be wherever you need to be.”
Surprisingly though, he hasn’t been approached by local goaltenders for advice.
“I would love to help them but we don’t play at the same rink we practice at,” Palmkvist said. “I’d be glad to help if someone asks.”
Within the team, Palmkvist said that he is confident in his back up goalie Luke Read’s skills and that he is ‘an amazing guy’.
“[Luke’s] great for the club and just doing everything he’s supposed to do,” Palmkvist said. “If I don’t play well, I know he’s going to be there to back me up.”
The Bears goalie named fellow Swede, Henrik Lundqvist as one of his favourite goaltenders. Both players like to play deep in net and push off their post when confronting shooters to cut down on the angle and allow more reaction time for saves.
Standing at 180cm or 5’11”, Palmkvist looks to smaller goalies for inspiration.
“I’m trying to look at smaller goalies to see how they play.” Palmkvist said. “Jonathan Bernier and Tim Thomas, both are 6’0” and 5’11” and to see how they manage to play in the league like that.”
Bernier is in a starting goaltender tandem for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL and is known as a great positional goalie, limiting rebounds and keeping a quiet crease. The Bears goaltender has been working with the defensive core in Sydney to find a similar system that will allow both to work together successfully.
“I like to have clear sight of the puck” Palmkvist said. “I’ve told them as long as I can see the puck, I can save the puck. So they just have to clean up the rebounds that fall or just keep the sticks away in front from getting those direct shots.”
Direct shots from rebounds were his downfall in the third Sydney derby. Palmkvist made amazing saves but with the Sydney Ice Dogs holding four of the top ten scorers in the league there was always another player ready to put the puck home.
“It’s intense because it’s the same city,” he said. “I know a lot of the guys on the teams are friends but obviously you both want to win so it is what it is.”
Tim Thomas is an athletic goalie with a battle-fly style, once nicknamed the Boston scrambler after leading the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011. Palmkvist said he admires Thomas’ game.
“He does a lot of good stuff too that you cannot take just one thing from him but I also don’t want to be a scrambler,” Palmkvist said. “You can still take different parts from his game.”
Unfortunately for Palmkvist, forcing him to scramble seems to be the game plan for other teams. Melbourne Ice head coach, Brent Laver previously described him as prominent to the game plan.
“[He’s] a good goaltender so the goal is to always get pucks in deep and try to have a net presence,” Laver previously told theAIHL.com. “Pick some trash along the way if you can because he’s a pretty good goalie, he’s pretty hard to score on from outside.”
The Sydney Bears last trip to Melbourne was highlighted by the Bears goaltender’s impressive 52 save effort against the Melbourne Ice and 26 saves against the Melbourne Mustangs leaving many in awe of the stellar performance that weekend. Their return will be sure to renew hostilities with both teams looking for retribution.
With the season speeding up towards playoffs, the league is wide open with all teams still in contention for a berth.
“Well this league is crazy right now with everyone beating everyone,” Palmkvist said. “We could go 10-0 for the last ten games but we can also go 0-10. So it’s all about approaching the next game, making sure you’re winning that and taking them one at a time.”