PROSPECT NIGHT: LULEÅ vs. KÄRPÄT

By pbadmin

With no less than 10 NHL drafted players and a few other interesting names, such as 2000 entry draft top prospect Lasse Kukkonen on the ice, this is one of the first and most important games to report from this season. Reason being that in preseason games such as this one, young promising players often get a chance to show what they are made of. Luleå gave two players from their U20 team a chance, although they weren’t played very much. Defenseman Anders Sundvall hardly played all. Winger Daniel Lundholm only played the first half, in which he was close to scoring for the first time in senior hockey. Kärpät is a team that has an amazing number of good prospects, and many of them really showed why they are prospects in this game. A sad thing, however, was that the Toronto 1997 draft pick Jonathan Hedström wasn’t able to play due to an injury he suffered earlier this week in a charity soccer game. This was supposed to be his first game in the Luleå jersey, but that has been put on the back burner as he recovers. Below is a report from this game. The players whose names are written in bold text are those mentioned in the ”Player comments” section.

Enjoy!

FIRST PERIOD
Luleå started the game with an early goal at the expense of hot 2000 prospect, Lasse Kukkonen.
Kukkonen didn’t get a good start in this game at all, and within his first minute on the ice, Luleå attacker Anders Burström receives a great pass from Johan Åström, finds a hole, goes one on one with Kukkonen. He fakes Kukkonen out of his skates, goes wide and buries the puck in the net.

However, Kukkonen soon gets a chance at redemption, as Kärpät’s Mikko Lehtonen is penalized. Kukkonen excellent on the powerplay, however he couldn’t capitalize this time.

Not long after that, Kärpät gets a powerplay when Luleå scorer Burström receives a high sticking penalty, and a small fight between the Calgary drafted Johan Finnström and Kärpät’s Kristian Taubert takes place. Soon afterward, it’s time for another Luleå penalty and Kärpät gets a good chance to play 5-3 for over a minute. Not even 10 seconds later, Juha Joenjäärä scores on his own rebound in front of the net to tie the game at 1.

Stats:
Scoring: 1-0 Burström (Åström)
1-1 Joenväärä (unassisted)

Shots: 9-18
Penalties: Luleå 2×2 mins, Kärpät 3×2 mins.

Notes:Luleå center Martin Hostak leaves the game early after a bad hit from Kärpät’s tough-playing defender Kristian Taubert.
SECOND PERIOD
Kärpät starts the second period killing off a 5 on 3, but plays tough and keeps the puck out of their net. Kukkonen and Viuhkola got plenty of penalty kill time, as the play in the 2nd period got chippier, resulting in more trips to the sin-bin for Karpat. Karpat had to fight their way through six 2-man disadvantages, while Lulea only had two. However, thanks to Kukkonen’s remarkable work in front of the goal and along the boards, Karpat was able to keep Lulea from scoring on the powerplay. However, the real hero for karpat might have been 24 year old Juha Joenvaara. The play in this period wasn’t very good and it seemed to get a little bit dirty from time to time.
The only goal in this period was scored by the right handed Kärpät winger Sakari Palsola. A hard and fast shot in an unexpected situation gave Kärpät the lead – 1-2.

Stats:
Scoring: 0-1 Palsola (unassisted)
Shots: 6-10
Penalties: Luleå 2x2mins, Kärpät 6×2 mins, 1×4 mins, 1×10 mins

Notes: Taubert’s personal vendetta against Johan Finnström from the first period continued. In the second round of the fight, Taubert throws his glows, but the referee steps in. The reason for this was that Taubert injured the second Luleå star center and associate captain for the night, Tomas Berglund. For this he gets 4 mins penalty + a personal penalty for 10 minutes.
THIRD PERIOD
At the start of the third period, Jari Viuhkola got penalized and this time Kärpät wasn’t able to keep the biscuit out of the basket. After a fantastic power play show by Luleå, the huge defender and captain Roger Åkerström was able to put it in the net – 2-2.
Not much else happened in the first half of this period until Johan Åström scored, with an assist to Burström and Finnström – 3-2 Lulea.

The same Åström became Kristian Taubert’s next victim. This time the referee didn’t just give him a penalty, he was shown off the ice for the rest of the game.

You would have thought that it was enough for Luleå to get their two leading centers, injured but Kärpät’s Jari Viohkola made things worse with a hit along the boards on Lars Edström who injured his knee, and had to leave the ice.

At the end of the game, Kärpät takes over, scoring two more goals. The last goal, scored by the finnish winger from the 1999 WJC Teemu Virkkunen was assisted by Jari Viuhkola.

Luleå’s hunt to make it even the last four minutes never scared Kärpät, as their defense was stone tough. With one minute left, Jarmo Myllys left the Luleå net, but by then it was too late.

Stats:
Scoring: 2-2 Åkerström (Kucera, Soutukorva)
3-2 Åström (Burström, Finnström)
3-3 Bergeron (Laukkanen)
3-4 Virkkunen (Viuhkola)
Shots: 15-11
Penalties: Luleå 2×2 mins, Kärpät 3×2 mins + a game misconduct.

SUMMARY:
Oulun Kärpät wins this pre-season game fair and square. Both teams played a pretty weak and unstructured game.
Kärpät may very well be the very best team in the Finnish 1st Division, but of course a team like Luleå, which went as far as to the semi-finals in the Swedish Elite League last season, should be able to beat them. Especially in their home arena. Revange in Finland Aug 17?

Anyway, both teams need to lift themselves a few levels before their leagues begin. Kärpät, in order to qualify to the Finnish Championships League (SM-liiga), and Luleå in order to remain as a team to be counted on in the Swedish play-offs.

To Luleå this game was not just a bad because they lost, they also got three very important forwards injured – Hostak, Berglund and Edström. All three are very important to Luleå. Add to this that the NHL drafted winger Jonathan Hedström also is on the injury list, and Lulea is in rough shape for right now. Hopefully none of these injuries are too serious.

PLAYER COMMENTS:
Here are short comments about eight of the players in the game along with their latest stats. They are listed after age with the youngest one first.
LASSE KUKKONEN, KÄRPÄT, D, 18.09.81, 6’1”, 170 lbs

Team League GP G A TP +/- PIM
Team Finland WJC18 7 0 1 1 0 0

Comments: This young Finn is one of the hottest European names for the 2000 entry draft. Played well in nearly all of Kärpät’s penalty kill situations.
He didn’t get the same chance on the power play, where he didn’t play at all, but when playing 5 on 5, he was on the ice regularly. He is a good skater and is strong in front of his goal and a good physical player. Kukkonen was to be blamed for the first Luleå goal and that wasn’t pretty, but it has to be considered that he is still only 17 years old. No one demands that he should have the routine it takes to play against a semi-final Elite League team yet. On the first Luleå goal it was Luleå’s top forward who tricked Kukkonen which makes it more understandable.

In general Kukkonen played a good game and playing almost 10 penalty kills without a goal against should tell a better story about him than this one incident.

JARI VIUHKOLA, KÄRPÄT, C, 27.02.80, 6’1”, 161 lbs – 158th 1998, Chicago

Team League GP G A TP +/- PIM
Kärpät FIN 1. 14 5 5 10 +7 6

Comments: Just like Kukkonen and Joenväärä, Viuhkola played a lot on the PK. At the end of the game, he made an excellent pass on Finnish WJC winger Teemu Virkunen’s game winning goal. Viuhkola was definitely one of Kärpät’s best attackers in this game and also played a good physical game. Will the real breakthrough come this season?
NIKLAS HAGMAN, KÄRPÄT, W, 05.12.79, 6’0”, 170 lbs – 70th 1999, Florida

Team League GP G A TP +/- PIM
Team Finland WJC 6 3 5 8 +3 2

Comments: Hagman was the only player in the game drafted this summer, and the 19-year-old right winger was nominated as the best Finnish U20 player 1999. But he was somewhat anonymous on the ice this game.
It seemed like he didn’t get too much ice-time in the second period, but that might have been a result of the many PK situations Kärpät got themselves into.

Hagman had a few good scoring chances in the beginning and in the end, but in between, he was invisible. Seems to be fast and strong with a good eye for the game.

JAAKO NISKAVAARA, KÄRPÄT, D, 03.03.77, 5’11”, 183 lbs

Team League GP G A TP +/- PIM
Kärpät FIN 1. 35 13 24 37 +29 48

Comments: In this game, Niskavaara only registered a 2 minute hooking penalty, but he still made a good impression. In 1995, he was the best defender in the EJC and judging by this game, it was for good reason. Played a very physical game, almost dirty sometimes. If this 22-year-old continues to develop, he’ll play in the SM-liiga soon for sure, and from there, the NHL shouldn’t be impossible.
MIKEAL LÖVGREN, LULEÅ, W, 11.07.76, 5’11”, 188 lbs

Team League GP G A TP +/- PIM
Luleå Play-offs 9 3 2 5 +8 12

Comments: 23-year-old Lövgren was one of the best players for Luleå during the play-offs last season, and one of the biggest reasons why Luleå got all the way to the semi-finals. If he lifts himself another level this season, the Swedish national team shouldn’t be very far away.
Mikael will most likely get a lot of ice-time with Luleå this season, since the team has lost some of their best attackers and Luleå is probably hoping that Lövgren will be one of their leading players. He may be a star in Elitserien soon, and from there the road to the NHL should be possible.

JOHAN FINNSTRÖM, LULEÅ, D, 27.03.76, 6’5”, 220 lbs – 97th 1994, Calgary

Team League GP G A TP +/- PIM
Luleå SWE Elite 49 1 8 9 -2 63

Comments: Last season, there was a lot of talking about Calgary and their interest in signing Johan. That probably isn’t out of the question at this time. The coming season in Luleå will probably be very important concerning his future.
Finnström played very solid in this game and didn’t make any mistakes at all. He has really matured in his play since he came to Luleå a few years ago. The fights against Kristian Taubert never got too serious but it still proved that Finnström is a tough one if he wants to be. However, he should be considered more of a mobile defensemen with a big asset in his size.

JUHA JOENVÄÄRÄ, KÄRPÄT, W, 22.08.74, 5’10”, 172 lbs

Team League GP G A TP +/- PIM
Kärpät FIN 1. 46 16 36 52 +20 60

Comments: Joenväärä played great on the PK in this game, but the most impressive thing was still his amazing forechecking ability. Several times, he broke the Luleå passing lanes in their own defensive zone. He’s very intense and made Luleå lose the puck in all kinds of situations all over the ice. Very impressive!
Kärpät also used Joenväärä on the power play, where he scored in the first period.

With his quickness and unexpected moves he reminds me a lot of one of his fellow-countryman, Saku Koivu. Like Koivu, Juha is a small guy, but he hasnt been drafted yet.

Since he isn’t that big, and soon 25 years old, it’s not likely that he’ll ever make it to the NHL, but as star of this game he still deserved a few words.

KRISTIAN TAUBERT, KÄRPÄT, D, 02.04.72, 6’2”, 194 lbs

Team League GP G A TP +/- PIM
Kärpät FIN 1. 39 4 6 10 +21 105

Comments: After five 2-minute penalties , one 10-minute penalty and a game misconduct, Taubert also deserves to be mentioned. Add to this the fact that he injured two Luleå centers before he left the ice, and you get the impression that he is the devil incarnate. Taubert was one of the best players at WJC 1990, along with Jere Lehtinen among others, but to give a comment about his play today would be hard, since he was shown to the box almost as soon as he stepped on the ice. Still interesting to see a little action in a European game like this one. What would have been really interesting would have been if the Luleå winger Jonathan Hedström had been able to play this game. Hedström is a tough guy too, and Taubert probably would have met some trouble along the boards then.