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2008-09: Suomalainen steadily improved as the season went on – highlighted by a late season stretch of nine straight wins in which he allowed just ten goals and then capping things off with some stellar play in the SM-Liiga A junior playoffs, including being named MVP after shutting out TPS, 3-0 in the final. Ironically, the win came against Joni Ortio, with whom he shared goaltending duties on Team Finland’s Bronze medal-winning U-18 team. Ortio started the bulk of those games, with Suomalainen’s only start a fairly easy win over Norway.
Suomalainen has the size and requisite skills to be a top-notch goaltender. He must continue to improve his foot speed and gain strength to make the jump from juniors to the pro ranks. Playing behind a very good Espoo club, he was able to consistently back-stop his club and come up with big saves when necessary. The real test for Suomalainen will be whether or not he is good enough to carry a team that is not as talented. Like most Finnish-trained goaltenders, he can handle the puck well and looks to distribute the puck after making a save. Rebound control is another which has yet to be displayed fully – partially due to Espoo’s ability to control play in its own end.