Loyola forward packs big punch in small frame
Loyola Gold's Axel Lifvendahl (right) celebrates with teammate Evan Touhy (left) after scoring a goal against Glenbrook North during their game on Jan. 17 in Northbrook. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 25, 2013 12:28PM
NORTHBROOK — Don’t be too quick to judge Axel Lifvendahl on the ice.
Of course, you’ll notice that he has excellent speed and the creativity of a figure skater. And with his 5-9, 155-pound frame, the Loyola junior forward resembles a Patrick Kane type of player – explosive.
But Lifvendahl brings a little more punch with his game.
“He doesn’t weigh that much, but he can certainly bring it,” senior Rambler linemate Joey Schaefer said. “You have to keep your head up, because Axel will also hit you hard in practice.”
Loyola coach DJ Lavarre added: “He’s tough as nails.”
Hitting is not new to Lifvendahl, a starting cornerback for Loyola’s 8A semifinalist football team.
“It’s a little easier to hit in hockey,” Lifvendahl said. “I can use my speed and balance to get leverage.”
Due to Loyola’s deep run in the IHSA football playoffs, Lifvendahl had to miss the first two months of the hockey season.
He has played in 17 of the first 38 games, scoring seven goals to go along with five assists and 30 penalty minutes. Lifvendahl missed another two weeks with a first-degree shoulder separation, just returning to action last week.
“I hit someone and when I came off the ice, I couldn’t move it,” Lifvendahl said.
One can only imagine how the other skater must have felt after the collision.
In a 5-2 victory over state power Glenbrook North on Jan. 17, Lifvendahl opened the scoring on a rebound, while finding plenty of time to dish out a few checks.
“I’m not quite in shape to hit like I’d like to,” Lifvendahl said. “I’m a little tired. But I’ll be back hitting in a week or so.”
Lifvendahl plays all of the front line positions for Loyola and is on the power play and penalty kill teams.
“He’s extremely versatile,” Lavarre said. “Left wing, right wing, center. First line, fourth line. Axel just has a really good understanding of the game.”
Lifvendahl uses his experience and savvy to mentor the younger players.
“Axel is always giving me little pointers to help me out,” freshman linemate Nikolas Kropp said. “He shows me where to go on the ice to get the puck or find the seams.”
Although Kropp is only 5-8, checking lessons from Lifvendahl can’t be far away.