It was a bumpy ride at times for Arvid Söderblom when he was with the Chicago Blackhawks last season. The team was selling off parts and Söderblom would come up in relief when injuries took hold in the crease.
The result was one that made for some tough numbers on the eyes. But a season later, the hard work he put in with both Rockford and the Blackhawks continues to pay off.
No one knows this better than IceHogs head coach Anders Sorensen.
“Last year, obviously, when he got injured after coming down, he hit a couple of speed bumps,” Sorensen said. “But towards the end of the year, he was back to being where we saw him the year before and it was just very impressive to watch that whole process that he went through.”
Söderblom, Like the Blackhawks, Continued to Grind
Goaltenders are a tough breed, one that often shoulder the blame when things don’t go well–whether warranted or not. It’s easier to rip the sieve than identify the collective guilt that goes around. But that’s hockey and often it can break even the strongest of netminders.
So it’s very impressive, in Sorensen’s eyes, because Söderblom never gave in to those struggles. If anything, it only had him dig deeper.
“Everyday that he came to the rink, his demeanor didn’t change. It was the same every day,” Sorensen said. “And he’s really good at controlling the things that he could control and then realize there’s some things that you can’t control and he shrugs those off.”
GOALIE TO GOALIE CHAIN ⛓️⛓️⛓️⛓️ pic.twitter.com/RAmMU07VmC
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 17, 2023
Söderblom has been shrugging more than that since taking the net twice already this season. In his two appearances against the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, the 24-year-old has turned away 64 of the 67 shots he’s faced for a stellar .955 save percentage. Against the Leafs, he weathered a storm of chances in the third period and finished with 34 saves.
Of course, it’s naive to think that he’ll stay at that type of production. He will again face the bumps that exist in the long journey of a hockey season. His first two games last season saw a similar shot total: 69 saves on 75 shots–again high volume. But as the journey went on, so did the struggles.
Söderblom took a long losing streak with him to Rockford after he surrendered seven goals to the New York Rangers. Just over a week later, the injury Sorensen spoke of occurred when he was back with the IceHogs. It would be a bit longer before he’d finally escape those losses that continued onto Rockford.
But just like Sorensen said, he shook off the struggles like he shook off the injury. Now, Arvid Söderblom looks to be shaking up the Blackhawks opponents as he and Petr Mrazek continue to stifle and slow some high octane offenses early in the season.
Sure, it’s still early. But it’s definitely a good thing for a guy the Blackhawks hope can be a fixture in the net for years to come.
“His biggest strength has always been his mental toughness,” Sorensen said. “I’m happy for him and where he’s at.”