The first World Junior Championship game I ever witnessed live
was the encounter between Finland and Canada on Christmas Day. My hopes for the
game were extremely high, but were tainted a bit by the absence of candians John Erskine, Ross Lupaschuk, Ramzi Abid, Kris Beech and Michael Henrich, players I had been looking forward to seeing. Canada finally won the game 3-2 (1-0 2-0 0-2) after a strong third period by the finns. The result was probably a bit unfair, as Finland was the better of the two teams, but Team Canada played a solid defensive game and didn’t allow the finns to score in the first two periods despite numerous power play opportunities. I was dissapointed by the power-play efforts from both of the two teams, especially the finnish power play. They didn’t create any serious goal-scoring opportunities in the second period, despite almost three minutes 5 on 3.
#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?
It was clear before the game that Kärpät will win, but not many people
believed it would be with such a big score. Kärpät has now scored 26 goals
in 3 games, has shut-outed opponent in both home-games, and still they
aren’t leading, because of harmful 6-6 tie with Diskos last week. In
scoring, there are 6 Kärppä players in best 7. (Martin Bergeron 4+4=8,
Vjateslav Fandul 3+4=7, Miikka Rousu 3+3=6, Sakari Palsola 3+3=6, Kimmo
Salminen 2+4=6 and Juha Joenväärä 1+5=6)
Today there was only one team on ice. Kärpät was better in everything, FPS
had given up before the game had started, and they were just standing and
waiting for game to end. FPS didn’t have a single good scoring chance. It
seemed that all Kärppä-players were playing great, but maybe it is because
of weak opponent, who were always at least two steps behind. Kärpät
dominated the game completely, shot 46 times, FPS had only 14 shots. Kärpät
should make the first pass in own zone a little faster, so they could move
to offense more quickly.
Kärpät had good scoring chances, but the game was played over 8 minutes,
until the red light turned on for the first time. The goal was scored by
Miikka Rousu, who went around FPS-defenseman, and shot to top-corner. Soon
Kärpät got 2-man advantage, and Juha Joenväärä put the rebound in, 2-0. Read more»
At first it looked like a good game but it turned out not to be so good. Kärpät played very well in the first period, but the 3-0 lead came too easily, and more or less Kärpät stopped playing and started to surf around the rink waiting for the final buzzer. It was much easier for Sport to get back in the game, and in second and third period, Sport was the better team on the ice.
Luckily for Kärpät, the crushing start was enough. Kärpät had a few
break-aways in the third period, but didn’t manage to score. Both teams
must improve their play as soon as the season starts.