1.Saku Koivu’s not-so-little brother, Mikko, plays for Finland.
So I went into the game with expectations of a hard hitting affair and lots
Czechs. Hitting and checking them off of the puck but the Czechs didn’t back
down. There wasn’t much scoring during the 1st period. One goal near the end
of the period by Finland’s Toni Koivisto. In the first period, the Finns outshot the Czechs
Semir Ben-Amor put the puck behind Czech keeper Jaroslav Hubl. But the Flyin
Fins weren’t done there. 31 seconds after that goal, Janne Jokila, Team
Finlands leading scorer, put another goal in. That spelt the end of the game
for Hubl. In came Martin Barek, who kind of reminded me of dominek hasek
with his full screen-cage helmet. The Goaltender change must’ve put a little
more gas in the tanks for the Czechs because after that they played like it Read more»
100% to give. They looked sleepy-eyed to start the game and were not as good
playing a team-defense as they have been in the past. Perhaps it is a needed
reality check for the Americans – they won’t beat opposing teams on skill,
but they can do it, and do it good, with a committed team effort. That being
said, the smallish Finns also came out with more jump than they had against
Canada and Slovakia as they faced a must-win situation. Finland switched
goalie from Antero Niitymäki (Philadelphia) to Ari Ahonen, a New Jersey
Devils firstrounder, and Ahonen looked very good under pressure. He made the
saves when the Finns needed it the most, although he wasn’t called upon to
make big saves until the Finns were ahead 3-0 in the third. The Finns also
got a good game from big defenseman Ossi Vännänen (Phoenix) who used his
body well and showed that he can make a very good first pass and unleash a
good one-timer from the blueline. Up front, smallish speedy 17-year old
Teemu Laine had a good game creating chances offensively along with tricky
forward Tomek Valtonen, drafted by the Red Wings. Valtonen scored the vital
first Finnish goal on a nice high wrist-shot. Centers Riku Hahl (Colorado)
and Mikko Kaukokari are dependable performers aswell, although they showed
The first World Junior Championship game I ever witnessed live
#30 Maxime Ouellet G – Maxime displayed a solid performance, the two finnish goals came from goal-mouth scrambles and was not his fault. Good positional play throughout the game.
#3 Jay Bouwmeester D – I had high hopes about for the very first time seeing the two canadian 16-year olds Bouwmeester and Spezza. Jay didn’t have much ice time, but he showed up a solid play with very few mistakes
I recently had a chance to interview Jere Kolari, a Finnish, Kuopio born player who is now chasing his dream in WHL playing for the Lethbrigde Hurricanes. Usually it’s players from Russia, Slovakia and Czech reb. who want to make the jump to North-American junior hockey. The Finns and Swedes have traditionally chosen to play in their own junior leagues. Jere made a bold move this past year and left hometown Kuopio. He was drafted in the 1st round of 1999 import draft. This year he’s been plagued with various injuries (concussion, knee) in the preseason.
Let’s hear what Jere has to say about this upcoming season and his future:
Question (by Zika): So tell us about yourself? Who are you?
Answer (by Jere Kolari): I’m Jere Kolari, born in the 11th of February 1982. I’m 6’1 tall and weigh 180 pounds. I play hockey as a centerman/winger and I shoot right handed.
Q: So when did you start playing hockey?
A: I was about 7 years old, the reason, was that all my friends played it and it was so fun.
Q: How would you describe yourself as a hockey player?
A: Well my strength is that I have a good shot and hockey sense, but obviously there’s still a lot of work I need to do on all areas to improve my game. I really should improve my skating.
Q: How has your hockey career been so far?