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Red Wings prospect from Sweden has hilarious road trip mix-up while trying to get to Grand Rapids - Welcome to Ohio.

In an interview with a Swedish news source, Jonatan Berggren discloses how a two-hour drive to the Red Wings farm team turned into a five-hour tale of two cities.

GRAND RAPIDS, Ohio — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above is from WTOL 11 sister station WZZM 13, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

When Detroit Red Wings prospect Jonatan Berggren was assigned to the farm team, he wasn’t quite expecting the adventure to involve actual farms.

Grand Rapids, Michigan, is two hours from Detroit and home to just shy of 200,000 residents. It's known for a lot of things, including good beer and good hockey.

Grand Rapids, Ohio, is two hours from Detroit and home to just shy of 1,000 residents. It's also home to the Applebutter Festival. But, it isn't home to a hockey rink.

It's a tale of two Grand Rapids and one confused Swede.

Jonatan Berggren is starting his first season in North America, having played his entire career in Sweden for Skellefteå AIK until now. 

The 21-year-old forward is one of the most promising prospects in the Red Wings system, but it was a long road for him to get to Detroit's minor league team. 


After playing preseason games for the Wings, it was time to head to Grand Rapids to open the season with the Griffins. Berggren packed up a rental car with his girlfriend Tilde and hit the road. 

Heading south. 

"She told me to put the arena’s name into the GPS, but I couldn't find it," said Berggren, translated from an interview with Swedish sports newspaper Sportsbladet. “I’ll type in Grand Rapids, then we can search for the arena when we get there."

When the GPS read "Grand Rapids, OH," Berggren thought that had to be the spot. The possibility of two Grand Rapids in the USA didn't cross his mind.

"I had never heard it before. But wow, 'there's probably only one Grand Rapids in the US,' I thought," Berggren recalled. "It was also two hours from Detroit, and they had told me it would take about that long."

The next two hours went without any problems, even though he thought the US had some crazy drivers.

It felt great with only 20 minutes left in the drive, but also a little odd. Berggren said he had read that Grand Rapids was a pretty big city, but what he saw was more like a town.

So he simply wondered when he'd be met by this big city of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Instead, he was met by farmers in the much smaller village of Grand Rapids, Ohio. 

Berggren realized the mistake when he typed in the arena’s name into the GPS and it said it was three hours away. He thought that must be wrong. He searched again and realized what had happened.

The right name, but the wrong place.

They turned around and tried again. Lucky for them, there's only one Van Andel Arena.

The first thing his girlfriend said was, “You should have let me drive."

"My girlfriend wasn’t happy," Berggren admitted. "We finally got there, but it took five hours instead of two."

Credit: WTOL 11

"It felt a little bit like the movie, 'Dumb and Dumber.' Just then and right there, it was tough. But when we got there we could laugh about it," he said. "The guys on the team also thought it was funny. It is a good story to tell."

The drive on I-96, between Detroit and what Michiganders say is the "real" Grand Rapids, is one that many Red Wings prospects grow familiar with. 

When the call comes, players pack their bags and head to Detroit to play in the NHL. They'll either stay there or eventually be sent back down to Grand Rapids, sometimes repeating the drive several times throughout the season.

Fortunately, Berggren isn't expected to find his way around a map. He has to find a way to put the puck in the back of the net.

"If you ask the guys I have played with, they probably say it’s typical," Berggren laughed. "But hey, things happen."

While Berggren may have ended up in the Buckeye State rather than the Beer City, the Red Wings do have a minor league team in Ohio. His mix-up leaving Motown coincidentally took him past Toledo - the home of Detroit's ECHL affiliate Toledo Walleye - twice.

It's a good thing he wasn't sent there, or else he and Tilde may have ended up in Spain.


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