This is how Jesper Wallstedt honors his grandfather during the WC 2023
Jesper Wallstedt, 20, is one of Swedish ice hockey’s biggest talents.
To this day, he is the only blue-and-yellow goalkeeper to be drafted in the first round and he has been compared numerous times to the icon Henrik Lundqvist.
In this year’s hockey WC, he forms a goalkeeping pair together with the 15-year-old Lasse Johansson in Tre Kronor. So far, Wallstedt has had the chance in three games and won all of them.
– It has felt good so far. I really had no idea that I would get to play in the WC, but it’s a lot of fun to be here.
Inscribed his grandfather’s name on the mask
The day Jesper received the WC announcement, he thought of his grandfather Håkan, who during his lifetime was one of Jesper’s biggest supporters.
When it was time to paint the WC goalie mask, it also became obvious that Håkan would be part of the world championship in Tampere.
– Before I put on the helmet, I grab the grill and then I get the back plate towards me. Then I see everything. Every practice, every match I get a reminder of the journey here and who was there and meant something.
Håkan died of cancer in the spring of 2019, at the same time Jesper played the U18 WC with Småkronorna in Örnsköldsvik.
Only after the tournament did he learn of his grandfather’s passing.
– I met him at the hospital just before I went to the WC. After the tournament, my parents told me that he had passed away. They didn’t want to bother me.
Do you appreciate it in retrospect?
– Yes, I thought it was smart.
Jesper speaks warmly of Håkan, who during his last years of life accompanied Jesper regardless of where he played.
– During the last three years before he passed away, he and his father traveled everywhere I was. If we played a four-nation tournament in the Czech Republic, then I knew that father and grandfather would be there. He was with a lot at the end before it was time to say goodbye.
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