This was a game where Blues really controlled the play and created much more scoring chances. However, HIFK scored the first goal of the game in the first period. Blues really dominated in the second period and eventually started find ways to score. HIFK goaltender was really good, especially in the first period and made some very impressive athletic saves. Blues won the game 5-2 and was clearly the better team in this contest.
F Patrik Siikanen (Blues U16): Siikanen was one of the best players. There were some shifts where he owned the boards and used his size very effectively. Perhaps not the quickest player in a straight line but smooth in turns. Tough contain due to his big frame, ability to protect the puck and change directions quickly. Really liked the way powered his way to the net a couple of times, controlled the puck extremely well in tight. He scored once with a quick shot from the slot area after HIFK players gave him too much space. Could have used his linemates a bit better in certain situations, although forward Lenni Killinen was really good too – very dangerous shooter and took some hits to make plays.
D Miika Heiskari (Blues U16): Heiskari scored two goals and controlled the play from back end. Super skilled and smooth with the puck, he reminded me a little bit of Veeti Vainio with his puck skills and poise in the offensive zone. Didn’t seem to have the hardest point shot, but was good at finding lanes to get his shots through. Smooth skater with great lateral agility and four way mobility, able to move the puck out of pressure in the defensive zone. At his home on the point, making crisp passes and being constantly in the right position.
D Noel Pietilä (Blues U16): Pietilä was very active offensively in the first period, making made one excellent end-to-end rush but he was interrupted just before he would score. He’s got very powerful first strides and impressive overall skating ability, including plus level acceleration and backwards skating. Hold the point well, went on pinching a few times. Showed smarts with the puck, made some heady passes showing off good vision. However, he wasn’t able to stop forward Lassi Vitali when he scored late in the third period for HIFK.
Other notables from Blues were forwards Erik Alakiuttu, Aleks Haatanen and Konsta Hirvonen. Haatanen played bigger game than his size would suggest and went to puck battles with intensity. He’s got good vision and rhythm in offensive game. Made passes that advanced the play, plus had some quality scoring chances but wasn’t able find the back of the net. Haatanen will be draft eligible in 2019 and I think the potential is great with this prospect. Once he gets bigger and stronger, he will be even tougher to stop at the junior level.