Marco Kasper is the man for the rough stuff – at least if you look at Rögle BK’s last two games.
In the round of 16 first leg of the Champions Hockey League in Salzburg, the Carinthian could be found wherever there was a fire (read HERE >>>). On Saturday, however, the 18-year-old went over the target in the SHL away against Örebro HK and was given a match penalty after an overly hard check (LAOLA1 reported >>>).
It’s a small blemish in what has actually been an excellent season for him so far. The NHL first-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings has taken the next step in its development in recent months, given more responsibility and ice age in Sweden.
This is reflected in the statistics. In 24 games he has already scored 17 points (six goals, eleven assists) and has a plus/minus balance of +14. Last season, including the playoffs, there were 23 goals from 71 games and -5.
With his linemates Ludvig Larsson and Oskar Stal-Lyrenas, he is the only ray of hope in an unusually weak Rögle team, which is threatened with abrupt exit from the CHL after the 3-1 loss in the first leg in Salzburg – and that as the defending champion.
“Salzburg played really well, worked very well and deserved to win,” said Kasper LAOLA1-Interview the strong performance of the “Eisbullen” in the first meeting without envy.
Nicknames “are part of ice hockey”
The Rögle legionnaire showed a striking performance in the Salzburg Volksgarten and also got to know one or the other Salzburger a little better.
Of course he was motivated to play at home. But for some viewers he polarized almost too much, but Kasper doesn’t see it that way himself. “I think that’s part of ice hockey,” says the youngster, who is actually a rather reserved fellow off the ice.
The “bulls” cracks “also played very hard, you could tell that too. And tough fights on the ice are part of it,” Kasper sees nothing reprehensible about the clashes on the ice. Not even when it comes to ÖEHV teammates like Luca Auer, with whom he will be back on the ice at the U20 World Cup.
“It’s just ice hockey, I think. That’s the way it is,” Kasper shrugs. It’s just part of his style of play to play with high intensity and pace and to win close fights.
More ice age, responsibility and self-confidence
In his new, old role as center he succeeds better than ever. The attacker completed his first full professional year in Ängelholm on the wing, this year he is playing his traditional central role in the attack line at the request of the Red Wings.
A role that “is better for me,” smiles the 18-year-old. “You have a little more responsibility defensively, you work a little differently.” Especially in his own zone, where he has to act more defensively than on the wing position. He attaches great importance to coordinating with his line colleagues.
“The team doesn’t just have one line. We all stick together.”
Kasper also gets on very well with Larsson and Stal-Lyrenas, “we have good chemistry,” he emphasizes. As a result, the center has also discovered his scoring touch this season, and his existing playmaking skills come into their own.
How does he explain his breakout season? “I’m just trying to play with confidence,” is Kasper’s simple answer. The ÖEHV crack does not want to let the fact that his line is the figurehead of the team stand. “The team doesn’t just have one line. We all stick together,” he clarifies.
But why hasn’t the knot burst in the SHL this year? Rögle is currently only eleventh out of 14 positions and has lost four of the last five games. “The league is very balanced. There were a few games that we could have won, but where we lost in the final stages or in overtime,” explains Kasper.
“After it’s so even and you don’t get a point, you can see it in the table straight away,” he explains.
Training with a Detroit legend
Detroit legend Niklas Kronwall will also have recognized this, who, together with a delegation from the NHL franchise, is looking closely at the legs of Marco Kasper, William Wallinder and Theodor Niederbach.
The former world-class defender was appointed the Red Wings’ “development coach” in the summer and is to monitor the young talents at Rögle. But that’s not all: the 41-year-old “went on the ice with us a few times, trained a bit with us,” says Kasper, who explains:
“We watch videos about our games and always give us feedback. Then we do special exercises for each of us. Wallinder is a defender, Niederbach and I a striker.” With great expertise, the rough diamonds should be shown the areas in which they can still improve.
“It’s always nice to get playing time there and meet new teammates.”
Kasper about the national team
However, Kasper is not much more concerned with Detroit. He regularly looks at the results of NHL games, “but I’m still fully focused on Rögle.” Therefore, there is still no concrete plan as to when he could make the leap into the NHL. Probably also because Kasper is in his last year of school.
“I always believe in the team”
And in addition to his school duties, which he also had to attend to after the final training session on Monday morning, he was most recently part of the Austrian national team, which put in a good performance at the traditional Germany Cup.
“It was fun training with the national team,” beamed Kasper. “It’s always nice to get playing time there and meet new team-mates. It’s good to meet other national teams like Germany, Slovakia and Denmark.”
He was satisfied with how the tournament went, “It went really well. We won two out of three games, which was our goal in this tournament,” says the 18-year-old, who is now fully focused on the CHL second leg against Salzburg lays.
He’s waiting for another tough fight: “Salzburg works really hard, so we have to stand up to them and try to just play and work harder than them,” says Kasper, setting the tone. The Carinthian is aware that it will be a difficult task to close the two-goal deficit.
“But I have no doubts about promotion,” Kasper believes that Rögle will succeed in the turnaround, because “I always believe in the team.”