Thursday, September 3, 2015 - Submitted by Ryan Darnley
Sydney Bears' import forward Joseph Harcharik has announced his new club for the upcoming European hockey season, heading to Sollentuna HC in the Swedish Division 1.
Harcharik, recently voted as the Bears’ Most Valuable Player for the season, will add Sweden to a list of countries he’s played in throughout his professional hockey career, including Germany, USA, Poland and Russia.
His new club, Sollentuna HC is possibly most famous for one of its sons; legendary Toronto Maple Leafs forward, Mats Sundin. Speaking of this tie to the big leagues, Harcharik was excited about the opportunity.
"I saw that Mats is still heavily involved in the community - it would be cool to meet him," Harcharik said.
He admitted to "not knowing too much" beyond the Sundin connection, but pointed out it looks like "a beautiful place with a great history of hockey" and its proximity to the Swedish capital, Stockholm is a definite positive.
The Iowa-born forward contributed 52 points (27 goals, 25 assists in 28 games) to the Bears this year, but he points out that the club and city gave him a great opportunity.
"My time in Sydney was truly amazing,” Harcharik said. “Being able to live by the ocean was unbelievable, it's hands down the best city in Australia."
Harcharik was quick to compliment the volunteers in the AIHL, pointing out that it was a highlights video and connections made in Australia that landed him his ticket to Sweden.
Looking back at his season with the Bears, he was really happy about the team's battle against adversity and points to really solid mental growth, especially from the younger players.
"Unfortunately we didn't end the season where we wanted but hopefully next year, that'll be a different story,” Harcharik teased.
For Harcharik now, his mind is on settling into his new surrounds, but he is happy to admit that he's hoping to come back to Australia next season, such was his enjoyment of the Australian Ice Hockey League.