Kärpät – HPK
Kärpät finished first in the regular season, collecting 45 points in 18 games and scoring 117 goals. The team has a very strong, quick offense with plenty of firepower. Kärpät had six players among Top 10 scorers. Forwards Aki-Petteri Antti-Roiko and Tuukka Tieksola both had 35 points. Aku Räty is a highly skilled forward who creates plenty of offense, while ’02 defenseman Kasper Puutio is great all-around and very effective. Forwards Aatu Räty, Arttu Tuomaala and Joona Kiviniemi all are capable of scoring goals and setting up chances.
The opponent HPK finished eight in regular season and then beat Kiekko-Vantaa in two games to advance to quarterfinals. HPK may not be the most skilled team, but they can definitely defend well. HPK has been led offensively by forwards Anton Sihvonen, Kasperi Heinänen and Tomi Palo, while Atso Lehtinen is one key defenseman. Kärpät has beat HPK 5-2 and 7-3 in the past two games between the teams.
TPS – Tappara
TPS has one of the top goalies in the 2001 age-group in Tomas Keinänen. The defense has been led by ’02 standout Nikolas Ketonen and Oskari Oksanen. Ketonen has 14 points in his past 17 games. At offense, Leevi Teissala brings lots of skill, quickness and high pace. Aapo Kaskinen and ’02 Niki Korpialho are a couple other forwards who will be counted on in key situations.
Tappara beat Pelicans in two games in the first playoff round. Goalie Riku Räihä allowed only one goal while making 71 saves. Viljami Nieminen, Joona Pirilä and Mikael Ojanen are a few forwards who played well and produced in regular season. However, Tappara is missing a key forward in ’02 Kasper Simontaival. The team plays a solid defensive game and that will be a key in the playoffs moving forward.
Blues – Jokerit
Blues’ offense is solid with ’02 Roni Hirvonen centering the first line. Hirvonen has very good hands, creativity and delivers smart passes. Julius Mäkinen and Daniel Tulensalo make a very good first defensive pairing. Overall, the defense is steady and strong. Blues allowed 66 goals in regular season which was fourth least among the ten teams. Severi Auvinen will start in net the first playoff game against Jokerit.
Jokerit scored fourth most goals in regular season with 71 in 18 games. First line center Niko Kautiainen has an accurate shot with a quick release and very good puck skills. Tomas Totro, Jesper Tarkiainen and Rasmus Lahnaviik are also skilled offensively. ’02 Joel Määttä has already proved to be a top forward on the team. On defense, Tuomas Tilli and Mico Luoto are more than capable of creating offense. Roope Taponen is a top goalie at this level.
HIFK – Ilves
HIFK collected 29 points to finished fourth in the regular season, while Ilves was fifth with only two less points. HIFK’s two key forwards are Anton Lundell and Marcus Kallionkieli. Both have played with U18 team recently, but when they have been at U16’s they have showed they can take over games. Overall, the offense is very strong. ’02 defenseman Christoffer Sedoff is a great skater with skill and ability at both ends of the rink.
Ilves plays a very good passing game and has several skilled forwards on the roster such as Väinö Koivula, Kalle Lehtinen and Jesse Kalliosalo. ’02 Joonas Valtonen is a promising goalie with athleticism and good technique. Ilves won both games between the teams in regular season (5-4 in overtime and 3-2 in shootout).