By Erica Whyte
On Monday, Rochester Americans rookie forward Victor Olofsson was named the CCM/AHL Player of the Week for his stellar performance, after tallying three goals – including two dramatic game-winners – and four assists for seven points in three games last week. Two days later, he notched four more points (2+2) in Rochester’s contest against Utica, launching him into first place in the AHL for points, with 12 through his first six games played in North America.
The 2014 seventh-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres has spent the last four years cultivating his skills in the Swedish Hockey League. But even with those years of pro experience, the jump from the European style of play to North America often takes some time to adjust.
Based on the first six games, however, it’s fair to say Olofsson has had no issues in getting acclimated to the American Hockey League.
“It’s definitely a surprise,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor of Olofsson’s seamless transition from the SHL. “He scored a lot of goals last year in a very good league, but coming into this league, and into North America, a smaller ice surface, new players, new surroundings, new coach, new everything…it’s tough. I’m very surprised with how well he’s grasped it so early in the season."
WATCH: VICTOR OLOFSSON AFTER BEING NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Known overseas for his sniping ability, the offensive weapon led the SHL for goals last year with 27. And according to now-teammate and fellow Swedish rookie Lawrence Pilut, who has been competing against Olofsson since they were 17 years old, playing with the goal-scorer is much more fun than trying to defend him from scoring.
“Over in Sweden, we knew he was their weapon on the power-play,” said Pilut, who currently leads all AHL first-year defensemen in scoring. “He’s speedy, he’s got a great shot, as we’ve seen this week, and it’s tough to play against him.”
An on-ice tenacity and quick-fire shot that have taken some time to develop. As a 23-year old entering his first season of North American play, Olofsson wanted to make sure that he really felt ready before making the premature jump from overseas.
"I didn’t want to come over here too early,” said Olofsson. “I wanted to stay a couple more years in Sweden to really feel like I was ready to come over here. And this year felt like the right year.”
"Off the ice, too. It’s not easy to take all your stuff and move to the other side of the world. It’s a big step, so I didn’t really feel like I was ready for it until now,” added Olofsson.
His patience is paying off.
“I just like his maturity level,” said Taylor of the quality that stands out most about the 'rookie’.
“When they’ve had so much time playing in that elite league, 22 or 23 years old, they’re very experienced.”
WATCH: VICTOR OLOFFSON POST-PRACTICE (10/6/18)
Although individually Olofsson is off to a great start, Taylor insists that the players all agree that the team effort is what really counts.
“If we don’t have success as a team, he doesn’t have success as an individual, and if everybody has good individual success, we will have good team success” said Taylor. “We need everybody.”
And everybody has been contributing. Three weeks into the season, the Amerks sit atop the North Division, lead the league for goals and have the top power-play in the AHL.
As for their next conquest? Rochester is looking to extend its win streak to five, as they host the defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies on Friday, their first game back home since a successful three-game road trip.
Tickets are available for that game, and every game, at Amerks.com.