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After moving to U.S. at 20, Wolves rookie Lucas Elvenes finds comfort in community of European hockey players

Adam Boqvist and Lucas Elvenes have known each other for several years, but they became close friends while helping Team Sweden win the silver medal at the World Junior Championship last December in New York.

Lucas Elvenes leads the Wolves with 29 points this season.
Chicago Wolves

Lucas Elvenes moved to the United States this year to achieve his lifelong dream of playing in the NHL.

It hasn’t always been an easy transition from Sweden to the United States for Elvenes, who turned 20 in August. He greatly misses his family, but he finds comfort in having right wing Jonas Rondbjerg, who is from Denmark, as his roommate. He also has a friend in Wolves veteran goalie Oscar Dansk, who is from Sweden, too.

‘‘As soon as you start to know the guys here, you almost get used to it quicker,’’ said Elvenes, who as a rookie leads the Wolves in points with 29. ‘‘[Rondbjerg and Dansk] are making it easier for me. And every guy on the team is also very nice. And so it’s pretty similar to back home, and after a while you get used to it.’’

It’s also comforting to know Blackhawks defenseman Adam Boqvist is only a phone call and a short train ride away.

Boqvist and Elvenes have known each other for several years, but they became close friends while helping Team Sweden win the silver medal at the World Junior Championship last December in New York.

‘‘He’s a good guy; he’s so funny,’’ Boqvist said of Elvenes. ‘‘Always when you’re with him, you laugh. He’s a really good guy, and I see him heating up in the AHL, as well. So hopefully he gets the chance to play in Vegas soon.’’

‘‘We’re very good friends,’’ Elvenes said. ‘‘When he plays here, we always talk and we always try to figure some time [to get together] and eat dinner or something. But I’m glad he’s close to me.’’

Boqvist and Elvenes had the chance to catch up briefly after a Wolves-IceHogs game earlier this season.

‘‘That time you don’t have that much time to do stuff,’’ Boqvist said. ‘‘You just want to relax, maybe go for a walk. But maybe soon we will catch up.’’

Elvenes, who has emerged this season as one of the top rookies in the AHL, joined the Sun-Times in the Chat Room this week.

It’s your first season with the Wolves. How are things going?

Lucas Elvenes: ‘‘I think we started off pretty tough. We have a lot of new guys on the team, and they just had to get a feel for what it’s like to play at the pro level. And right now, since we’ve gotten into it, I think we’re doing better and better for every game. And we’ve found a team chemistry and keep winning games.’’

What was the biggest adjustment you had to make?

LE: ‘‘It’s the size of the ice. Back home, we have a much bigger ice. Here, you’re close to the nets all the time. Players are bigger and tougher than home, so there’s a lot of things you have to get used to. But as soon as you get used to it, you just keep on going.’’

European hockey players tend to be more skillful or have more finesse to their game, whereas Americans are traditionally more aggressive. How did you adjust to the physicality of the AHL?

LE: ‘‘I agree. Here, you’re more easy with the puck. You’re doing the first easy thing with the puck. Back home, you’re almost trying to find a play all the time. Here, you have one guy on you all the time because of the ice, and all the players here are so smart. So, yeah, as I said, it’s a different style here.’’

Was it difficult to make that transition?

LE: ‘‘Yeah. We started off with camp in Vegas, and that’s a good thing to have first when you come over here [because] you can get used to it. After that, I’ve been talking to the coach, Rocky [Thompson], and players I play with, and they teach me new stuff all the time. So I’m really thankful for that.’’

When did you start playing hockey?

LE: ‘‘It started out with my dad. My dad played until he was 40, I think. And he just, when I was 3 years old, he put me in skates. That’s when I started to love the sport. And my brother [Ludvig] also played it. So I wanted to be like him when I was younger. That’s why.’’

What’s your favorite memory of playing hockey as a kid?

LE: ‘‘I think playing with my brother is my favorite memory. Just to be on the ice with him and share memories and all that with him, it’s the best thing that I’ve ever had on the rink.’’

Who are some players you look up to?

LE: ‘‘That was my brother, too. All of the stuff he did, I wanted to do, too. And when he was younger and also right now, he’s still playing, he’s really good. And he played with the older guys all the time, and I wanted to do that, too, and see what he did. And so he was my role model when I was younger and still is.’’

What have you loved most about Chicago?

LE: ‘‘That’s hard. . . . I really like downtown; I love it. It’s really different from back home with all the high buildings and things like that. I think it’s really cool.’’

Any hobbies you enjoy?

LE: ‘‘I really love music. I don’t play any music, but I love listening to music and hanging out with my friends. That’s all I do when I’m not playing hockey.’’

Who are some of your favorite artists?

LE: ‘‘I really love rap. I don’t have a specific artist, but I just love rap.’’

Do you prefer cardio or weightlifting?

LE: ‘‘Weightlift . . . cardio, that’s tough. That’s too tough.’’

Contributing: Ben Pope