Lofquist will return to Sweden to continue hockey career next winter
Sam Lofquist already has a signed hockey contract to continue his career in Sweden next winter.
After playing in Oskarshamn, Sweden the past two seasons, Lofquist is moving to Sweden's largest city for the next step in his hockey career. But his ultimate goal remains the same.
"I'm so motivated to get back here and play in the NHL. That's what I've wanted to do since I started to play hockey," he said.
Lofquist, who just turned 23, said many players sign National Hockey League contracts when they are 25-27 years old and he's hopeful he'll be one of those players.
Teams looking for offensive-geared defensemen could find a good fit in Lofquist. He led defensemen in the Allsvenskan League in goals with 13. He won a league contest for having the hardest shot, drilling the puck at 165 kilometers (103 miles) per hour.
Teams in Sweden play on an Olympic-size rink. Lofquist said that is a perfect fit for his style.
"Everyone over there can skate. That's the most important skill set," Lofquist said of the European style.
Lofquist has signed with the Djurgarden team in Stockholm. It has the longest tradition of success in the league.
"With a big year I could be coming back (to North America). Hopefully, some team will take notice," he said.
A number of NHL players have come out of Sweden. Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche came up through the Djurgarden system.
Lofquist said he loved playing in Oskarshamn, a hockey-obsessed community of 19,000 that packed the rinks for every home game. He said Oskarshamn is four hours away from Stockholm and Copenhagen, the closest cities with major airports. He said playing in Stockholm, the most populated city in Sweden, should help his visibility as he tries to attract the attention of an NHL team.
Hockey has taken the Somerset native all over the world. He played at Shattuck-St. Mary in Minnesota and with the U.S. National Developmental Team. He spent one season at the University of Minnesota before deciding to play in Canada. He spent two seasons with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League.
At the end of his second season in Guelph, he was signed to a tryout by the Minnesota Wild. He played one regular season game with the Wild's top minor league team, the Houston Aeros at the end of the 2011-12 season.
After that tryout, he signed to play professionally in Oskarshamn.
Oskarshamn will always be a special place for Lofquist. He proposed to his girlfriend on the ice at Oskarshamn, with his coach and his best friend videotaping him popping the question.
Lofquist also learned that his surname is Swedish and that his grandfather came from Sweden. He even got to meet a relative in Sweden who showed him several generations of his family's lineage.
Lofquist is spending the off-season at his parents' home in Somerset as he trains to improve his skills. He trains with several other pro players at the ARP Clinic in Apple Valley. He skates wherever he can find a sheet of ice.
"Every athlete is trying to become faster, stronger. My shot is my greatest offensive tool and I'm always working on it," Lofquist said.
Lofquist said he plans to leave in early August to begin his next season in Sweden.