About the League
USA vs. Finland matchup crowned Day 2 action of the 2019 Sirius Junior Club World Cup. Finnish champions Kärpät Oulu and Team NAHL played their first game in Group B.
Both teams are Junior Club World Cup debutants. Joel Blomqvist got the nod for Oulu, whole Mattias Sholl defended Team NAHL goal.
Americans scored on their very first shot of the game – Nate Horn used Kärpät defensemen’s confusion and beat Blomqvist. Oulu tied it up rather quickly. Petteri Puhakka fired it home past Sholl to finish off a great passing play to make it a 1-1. First penalty of the game came shortly after. Andrew DeCarlo got the gate and Kärpät almost got in the lead after yet another crisp play. The only thing it lacked was a good shot, as the puck whistled wide of the net. ‘Ermines’ pinned Team NAHL to their net, which led to Chris Trouba getting a 2-minute minor and a 10-minute misconduct for checking to the head. A few moments into the man-advantage, Team NAHL also got caught with too many men on the ice. Kärpät managed to convert on the double powerplay as Jesse Moilanen buried it from the slot to give Oulu a 2-1 lead after 20.
Second period began with some fast-paced hockey, partly due to the fact that the teams were getting penalties and played on a powerplay in turns. Ville Heikkila received the puck at a great shooting area but Sholl stopped the one-timer. Kärpät’s second line was buzzing around the net but Sholl, a native of California, put his skill on display once again, covering the puck. Next penalty led to Oulu extending their lead to two goals – Zdenek Sedlak, a Czech import on the team, beat Sholl from in tight. Americans began playing more aggressively but couldn’t get back to within one before the intermission. Getting two consecutive roughing minors certainly did not help the cause.
Early in the third stanza Sholl also got a minor for delay of game. Kärpät pounced on the opportunity as Aarty Räty finished off a marvelous play as he hit the wide-open net. Finnish side failed to convert on the following Alex Murray’s penalty but they did score right after at even-strength as Ville Heikkala tipped the puck home. Having established the big lead, ‘ermines’ simplified their game and worked the clock till the final buzzer. 5-1 Kärpät was the final score of Day 2.
“We played against a very physical team so the game was really difficult,” said Kärpät head-coach Ville Mäntimaa. “There was a lot of speed in the first two periods and no one really had the advantage until third period. All USA teams play tough. Powerful hits, fast skating and constant pressure are characteristic for them. Perhaps, that was the reason for our struggle early on.
“I think key moment of the game was the third goal of our team because it got a lot easier to play after it. This was Kärpät’s debut at the tournament, so our young guys were a little nervous. They saw a serious level of organization in Sochi and that president of Russia is happy with the tournament. Participating in the World Cup means a lot to us. Can we do better than HV71 last year? I would like to believe that but it’s still too early. After all, it was just one game. Czech Trinec are our next opponents. They have skilled players so we have to be ready for the game.”
“The Finns have a great team,” said Team NAHL general manager Anthony Zasowski. “Many of our players have never been so far away from home. Perhaps, it’s a bit of a culture shock for them. It’s also my first experience of such road trip. I don’t think we played poorly. There’s just a few things that we need to improve. Our priority right now is to point out these things and work on the mistakes we did tonight. Obviously, you get a little nervous playing at such level, seeing such opening ceremony as last night. Besides, president Putin was at the game. The boys are getting to know each other because they all play for different teams. They are all good players so the most important thing is to understand where they should be allocated and what roles they should be given. We went on a few excursions. The boys spend time together. I heard them talk to each other. They talk about mutual acquaintances and teammates. It’s like finding another brother and getting to know him. I wouldn’t call that a problem, but we haven’t spent as much time together as other teams. That’s why you’re definitely will notice improvements once they get used to each other.”
“I think we had to do better tonight than we did. Finland have a great team, they skate fast and handle the puck well,” said Team NAHL defenseman Chris Trouba. “Yes, we didn’t follow the game plan set for us by our coaches. We’re still getting used to each other. We haven’t spent much time together as a team – only about a week. The more we’ll play, the better we’ll get. Kärpät’s style reminds of Krylia Sovetov’s, whom we played against in Moscow. They are just as fast and skilled. We have to learn a lesson from this and get ready for next games. We don’t study other teams in detail. We mainly focus on our game and work on our chemistry to play better. My whole family watched the game back in Michigan, including my brother. It’s an unusual experience for me to play in Russia while they watch the game at home. Am I going to buy souvenirs for them? I haven’t done it yet but I’m sure I have to bring something. They would get mad if I come home without souvenirs!”.
2019 Sirius Junior Club World Cup
August 24th. Sochi, Russia. Shayba Arena
Round robin. Group В
Team NAHL (USA) – Kärpät (Finland) – 1-5 (1-2, 0-1, 0-2)
1-0 – Horn (Temple) – 00-20
1-1 – Puhakka (Tieksola, Juusola) – 02-46
1-2 – Moilanen (Aatu Räty, J. Koskenkorva) – 18-30 PPG
1-3 – Sedlak (Puhakka, Järvitalo) – 34-15 PPG
1-4 – Aatu Räty (Moilanen, Loponen) – 44-41 PPG
1-5 – Heikkila (Juusola, Niskala) – 53-47
Goaltenders: Sholl - Blomqvist