A quick and shifty youngster who definitely has an affinity for playmaking, Otto Somppi is here at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament centering the second line for Team Finland, who won their first three games in the preliminary round but dropped a 2-1 decision against Sweden in Friday’s semifinal match.
A recent draft pick of the Halifax Mooseheads, Somppi will be embarking on a journey to the CHL in just a few short weeks. Hockey’s Future chatted with the quick-skating forward earlier in the week.
Hockey’s Future: Two games, two wins. How are you feeling about this summer tournament so far?
Otto Somppi: I’m feeling very good and the team is too. With two wins already, we’re already in the semifinals. But that isn’t our goal. We want to win this thing.
HF: How are you feeling about your own personal play thus far?
OS: Well, today I got a 10-minute penalty. To be honest, I still am not sure why. I think the referee misunderstood something. But it was not fun sitting in the penalty box for 10 minutes.
HF: How about yesterday in the 5-1 win over the U.S.?
OS: We were very strong in the first and did everything we wanted to. We ended the period with a 4-0 lead, but knew it would only get harder. And it did. The U.S. did everything possible to get back in the game. We played very hard defensively and didn’t want to let them back into the game. I was happy with my effort and effectiveness. I still think I should be creating more dangerous offensive chances, though.
HF: Will you do that tomorrow against the Russians?
OS: Russia is always tough. They move well and they move the puck well. You must always be on your toes. It’s a good challenge for us. The third game in a row and a team we have to beat to truly be a gold medal team.
HF: You’ll be heading over to Canada soon to join Halifax in the QMJHL. A lot of good young players have played there in recent years. What are your thoughts on that?
OS: I am very excited. It is simply an incredible opportunity for me and should make my life better in many ways – on and off the ice. I am a bit nervous, but I can’t wait to get everything started.
HF: It’s also your draft year. Any thoughts on that?
OS: Yes. I have to play good. Real good. It’s as simple as that. I have to have the best season of my life. And that is my goal.
HF: You know there are a lot of scouts from the NHL right here, right now. Is that something you think about at all?
OS: No. Really, not in the least. I don’t think about it.
HF: The Finns won silver at the U18 and were medal winners two World Junior Championships ago in Malmo. What can you say about player development in Finland?
OS: That is tough to comment on. We seem to have a really good wave of players now. But we place a lot of emphasis on skating. We work on that a lot. We do a lot of drills on and off the ice that seem to help us develop a lot.
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