Comets Tales: Peter Andersson
by Don LaibleMar 16, 2015
Shortly after a mid-week match The AUD with the Rochester Americans, it was a safe bet that Comets defenseman Peter Andersson didn’t think he would be talking fishing.
Like the majority of those on the Comets roster, players come to the Mohawk Valley in pursuit of their professional hockey dreams. For 23-year-old Andersson, his story begins 3,600 miles away in Kvidinge, Sweden.
To be young, athletically gifted, and far away from familiar surroundings, teammate camaraderie aside, it’s an ongoing battle to win from a tough opponent. But Andersson continues to adapt to his “seasonal home” with much interest and success.
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As equipment personnel secured sticks and other game-used items, and teammates dressed and left for home, Andersson appeared as anything but in a hurry for his work day to be officially over. Dressed in matching blue shorts and T-shirt, the young Swede was anxious to tell what his interests are back home, and those he gained since coming to America three AHL seasons ago.
“The guys on the team help out,” Andersson said of times that he needs help interpreting an American word or custom. “If I have problems, I can go to (Pat) Conacher (Comets’ director of hockey operations).”
Prior arriving in Utica last season, Andersson spent the previous campaign in Chicago. Before signing an affiliation deal with the Vancouver Canucks, the Chicago Wolves were the primary affiliate for Vancouver. Comparing skating in the “Windy City” and Utica was simple for Andersson.
“Chicago is big,” Andersson said. “We had lots of good support from the fans, but the fans here (Utica) are more like family.”
Feeling like you’re surrounded by family is important when your parents are thousands of miles away. Thanks to Skype, Andersson talks to his family daily. Since turning pro, Andersson’s parents have begun a tradition of visiting their son at Christmas time. Andersson remembered his family visiting Utica and surrounding area this past December.
Plus, having two teammates – Joacim Eriksson and Jacob Markstrom also from Sweden – is comforting for Andersson. Aside from telling tales of what they did on the 16-hour plane ride from Sweden to New York, Andersson enjoys “hanging out” with people from his own country who share the same lifestyle.
This brings up fishing. While describing his first-hand thoughts about the United States, a reporter packing up for the night chimed in: “Do you like to fish?” From the lifting of his eye brows to his stretched smile, it was clear at least one of his favorite pastimes is fishing.
“What kind of fish is in the water by Aqua Vino,” Andersson said.
Andersson, who has 5 points tallied in the 33 games played this season for the Comets, said in the off-season he spends a fair amount of time on the water, with pole and bait in tow.
The road that eventually took Andersson to a Comets line-up this season required him to leave home at age 16. He would be included with Bobby Sanguinetti and Alex Biega as part of the defense corps for coach Travis Green’s roster. Five seasons playing in his home country for Frolunda HC based in Gothenberg, and Boras HC, Andersson was two hours away from his home base of Kvidinge.
Although there is a six-hour time difference between Utica and Andersson’s small hometown, there are more than a few habits and likes he’s picked up to ease the pain of distance.
“Burgers, steak, chicken wings, I have come to like,” Andersson said. “Here in the stores, people are so friendly. They say ‘hi,’ and are there to take care of you. I like fast food.”
Hockey names with great success in the NHL have even more legendary status in Sweden. Andersson remembers following the careers and highlights of Peter Forsberg, Mats Sundin and Nicklas Lidstrom. They motivated Andersson to reach the NHL. Currently living near Eriksson, the duo shared more than a few stories of their fellow countrymen and their NHL stardom.
Being drafted by the Canucks in 2009 in the fifth round, Andersson has the ingredients for a promising and successful hockey future. Cultivating these skills, now for a second go-around with the Comets, appears to be showing signs of improvement. It’s all about development as a player and for young men to grow into adulthood.
So, after Andersson turns 24 years old on April 13, and before the final Comets’ game of the season, there’s a good chance the defenseman wearing No. 40 on his jersey will cast a line in a local body of water. Relaxing, thinking of home, and mastering one more American tradition, coming to America remains enlightening for Andersson.