BRANDON — When Magnus Chrona returned to his native Sweden after last year’s Lightning development camp, his friend Hugo Alnefelt joked that maybe he’d be there with Chrona the next time.
Fast forward a year and the two are sitting one stall apart in the dressing room at the Ice Sports Forum for this year’s camp.
“It’s super sick,” Alnefelt said. “We were joking about it. But for it to actually happen, it’s super fun.”
When the Lightning drafted Alnefelt in the third round Saturday, Chrona, a fifth-round pick in 2018, was quick with a congratulatory text message, followed by a phone call later. It’s always good to see your friend get drafted, but all the better when it’s by the same organization.
Down the road it could lead to competition. Both are goalies.
But for now, it’s fun.
“To get to introduce Hugo to everyone is fun,” Chrona said. “I texted him (when he was drafted) and said, ‘Happy for you. See you in Tampa.’ ”
Chrona, 19 in August, and Alnefelt, 18, grew up in the suburbs of Stockholm about 5 miles apart. Neither is sure exactly how long they’ve been friends, but Alnefelt estimates since they were 12. They played in the same league, though on different teams, but having mutual friends had more to do with their friendship.
They’ve never been on the same team until now.
Sharing the same ice will be short-lived, though. After camp, they’ll head to teams almost 5,000 miles apart to play next season. Alnefelt will return to Jonkoping, Sweden, where he played most of last season with a junior team. Chrona will play outside Sweden for the first time, at the University of Denver.
Chrona, who has played mostly on the larger European ice surfaces, appreciates this time on the smaller North American ice to get ready for his collegiate career. Also, the speed of the game is different.
For Alnefelt, this has been a chance to just take everything in. He has been in NHL facilities before — at the under-18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup tournament in Edmonton and the NHL scouting combine in Buffalo — but it’s different after being drafted.
He’s also enjoying the weather. Last summer temperatures hit a record high in Sweden at 72 degrees. It was 93 in Tampa on Thursday.
It has been an emotional, busy week for Alnefelt. He flew from Stockholm to Vancouver (via New York) for the draft a week ago today, was drafted Saturday, flew to Tampa and is now at his first camp. Alnefelt has been enjoying the down time, chilling with new and old friends between practices.
“I’m just enjoying everything and taking in what everyone has to give, the facilities, the coaching staff, everything,” he said. “Seeing the facilities and everything is just so good, so big and so nice.”