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Sara Grahn: Changing the Game of Ice Hockey

Sara Grahn, a Swedish ice hockey goaltender in the Sweden Women’s Hockey League or SDHL, made her men’s professional hockey debut with Luleå’s SHL team. The SHL is the highest-division league in Sweden for men’s professional hockey consisting of 14 teams. The SHL is similar to the AHL.

Photo Courtesy @saragrahn25/Instagram

Making History

Grahn followed in the footsteps of Manon Rheaume, a Canadian goalie, and played hockey with Luleå. Grahn is the first woman in Sweden to play in a men’s professional league and the longest-tenured goaltender in SDHL history. Rheaume is the first woman ever to play hockey at the men’s professional level. She was signed as a free agent in 1992 by the Tampa Bay Lightning. She is also the only woman to ever play in one of the big four American sports.

Grahn’s Stats

Grahn started playing for Luleå’s SDHL team back in 2016. She played for three years with Brynäs IF which is located in Gävle, SWE. Each season ended in a short playoff run consisting of two games played both being losses. After her time there, Grahn moved to Luleå HF where she has been since 2018. With Luleå HF, she has seen longer and better playoff runs. Her most recent being last year where they went 7-0-0.

Photo Courtesy of BILDBYRÅN

In the 2022-23 season, Grahn played 18 games with a save percentage of .928 and three shutouts in the regular season. That postseason, she played 7 games with a save percentage of

.953 and had another three shutouts.

The Game

With Luleå’s SHL team being down two of their star goaltenders, they brought in Grahn and a player from the J20 men’s league. Grahn was not the starting goalie; but with a couple of minutes left in the second period and Luleå being down 4-2, Grahn finally saw ice time. During the third period, Luleå ended up scoring two more goals tying the game at 4-4. This pushed the game to overtime and eventually led to penalty shots.

After the game, Grahn posted to Instagram. The translation of her post is “Thank you @luleahockey for giving me the opportunity to represent an association that believes in equality and made my dreams come true. Thank you to everyone in the A-team for believing in me and supporting me when I got to the goal. Also a big thank you to all the fantastic people on the stands for your support. I am extremely grateful to belong to @luleafans and Luleå city @luleahockey

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