We have officially hit the “potential second-division European hockey league gambling scandal” point of the pandemic.
The CEO of a team playing in the second-tier Swedish Allsvenskan said he welcomes an investigation while addressing allegations of “match-fixing” after his powerhouse squad gave up a 3-0 lead and lost 8-4 on Monday.
“I hope that this is sorted out properly and that we turn over all the stones that can be turned over,” Björklöven boss Anders Blomberg said in Swedish, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
“Just the suspicion is serious enough, but if it turns out to be true, it is of course completely unacceptable and something that must never occur in our association. These players are trained in what applies in Björklöven and this is so far from the culture we stand for.
“I have an incredibly hard time believing that someone in Björklöven has been involved in such a type of activity. Of course, we welcome the fact that the question is being investigated when there are now suspicions and speculations.”
Despite Björklöven giving up eight straight goals to an inferior opponent after building a hefty lead — while making some unusual in-game decisions in the process — it wasn’t really anything game-play related that raised the red flags, but rather the gambling trends surrounding the contest.
Björklöven went into the evening as -130 favourites, but those odds of winning only increased minimally (to -150) even though they took a 3-1 lead into the second period. Johnston notes that those odds likely held steady because money was pouring in on Björklöven’s opponent, Mora, but that the betting companies and sportsbooks will face scrutiny as the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation’s security department — and the police — investigates.
There’s also a bit of an NHL connection to this story, as Nashville goaltending prospect and former Canadian world junior netminder Connor Ingram was lit up for five goals on 14 shots before being pulled. It was the final start of Ingram’s loan agreement with Björklöven, as the 23-year-old is heading back to North America to prepare for the upcoming NHL/AHL seasons.
Strange stuff indeed. Goaltending, that is.
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