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JÖNKÖPING – He is regarded as one of Sweden’s biggest hockey talents and is racking points in the junior team, but the A-team chance has not been missed for HV71’s promising forward Zion Nybeck. He tells HockeyNews.se, among other things, about goals, feelings for the draft and the pressure he has experienced.

– “At the beginning of the season, I felt that I had to perform,” said the 17-year-old.

HV71’s Zion Nybeck walks into the lounge behind the stands of Kinnarps Arena. He sits down at a round table and peeks out the window where the sun is setting before we start talking.

Have you always been a big talent?

– “I have always been that, but there was one called Gottfrid (Heinmert) in Alvesta. He was one year older, but I played with that team. He was a bigger talent at that time,” said Nybeck.

After racking up points in the parent club, Alvesta’s junior team, he made his debut for the A-team in division 2 already as a 14-year-old.

– :I had played one game in J20 and then it was directly up to the A-team. I wasn’t really prepared to get the chance so early. Now in retrospect, however, I think that I have had great benefit from those games. I’m pretty short but got to learn to play against bigger players early on,” he said.

Two years ago he left the parent club for HV71’s organization after being chased by virtually all hockey high schools in Sweden.

– “It felt comfortable to choose HV71. They have great amenities all around and several good coaches at the hockey high school. Then I had a lot of friends here from TV-Pucken. It was a pretty simple choice” said Nybeck.

Do you have any role models?

– “It’s been my brother for the most part. He (Chris Nybeck) was playing in Oskarshamn when I was growing up and also played in HV during high school. He is the one I’ve looked up to most,” he said.

Today, the 17-year-old is regarded as one of Sweden’s biggest hockey talents and the promising forward has started the season by recording 23 points in 14 games for HV71’s J20 team. Despite that, he has not yet gotten the chance to play in the SHL.

– “It’s not something I really think about. I know the opportunity will come, I just have to wait and be prepared when I get it,” said Nybeck, who doesn’t even train with the A-team at the moment:

– “I got to participate in the preseason down in Germany and think I did well then, but otherwise it hasn’t been more than that,” he said.

Have you gotten an explanation? 

– “No, they have just said that they have a lot of forwards right now,” said Nybeck.

“I’m always working to get there.” 

As a junior, he got to win the World Championship gold with Småkronorna on home ice this past spring and when we start talking about it he starts to smile.

– “It was absolutely incredible. Extra special to win at home in front of all the fans,” he said. “We knew before the tournament that we had a very good team and we had beaten USA in Russia one month before. It felt good, but we had a heavy start to the tournament. When we beat Russia, we came together as a group and gained confidence. Everyone took on their roles.”

What does it mean to you to wear your national team jersey?

– “It’s always just as cool, an honor. I always work hard to get there.”

Are you chasing a spot on the WJC roster this year?

– “Hard to say right now. I have to get a chance with the A-team here first if I’m going to head to the WJC.”

The forward has taken great strides in his game since joining HV71, but the biggest development has taken place off the ice.

– “I’ve become better at taking care of myself. I have been taught how to cook, sleep on time and take care of the body. These are important things to be able to succeed,” he said.

How does it work combining school with hockey?

– “It works pretty well. Some days I may go a little earlier to catch up on training, but overall it is well managed and the club and the school have a great dialogue.”

Is school important for you?

– “In the end it is, but that’s maybe not how I think of it now. Now it’s mostly hockey, but it’s clear that I have to do well in school too.”

“That’s what you dream of.”

Zion Nybeck has an important year ahead. In the coming summer he will be fielded in the NHL draft and according to the latest rankings he is expected to be selected as the nineteenth player overall.

– “I don’t think very much about it. I just have to do my job here and now, but it’s clear that I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

Are you experiencing any pressure? 

– “At the beginning of the season I felt that I had to succeed, but now towards the end I feel that I’ve relaxed a lot more. I’ve realized that I have to focus on myself and what I’m good at. That’s when it will move forward.”

First and foremost, Zion Nybeck will have his breakthrough with HV71’s A-team. Then, after that, he has much higher goals in sight.

– “I want to reach as far as possible and be able to live on the hockey. The aim is the NHL, so clearly that’s what you dream of,” he said.

 

Reporter: Mattias Persson 

Photo: Mattas Persson / HockeyNew.se

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