Pelicans Off to a Strong Start in the Finnish U20 league

Pelicans boasts a perfect record in the Finnish U20 league, collecting 21 points on the season thus far. They have the best goal differential of all teams, scoring 28 goals and allowing 12 goals in only seven games.

According to Elite Prospects, Pelicans has the seventh youngest team in the league. However, many of their core forwards are 1998 and 1999 born players. Waltteri Merelä, who came over from Tappara U20, leads the league in scoring with 14 points (2-12-14). His linemates on the first line, center Sakke Hämäläinen and 2000 born Aleks Haatanen, are also very good players on this level. They already played well in the preseason which is often a good indication before the regular season begins.

Right-handed defenseman Santtu Kinnunen and goalie Jasper Patrikainen have been extremely impressive in the early going. Kinnunen is a Florida Panthers seventh round pick from the past June. The tall and rangy blueliner makes a crisp and accurate first pass. He processes the game quickly with the puck and possesses really good offensive instincts. He gets around the ice well and is quite mobile. Kinnunen certainly must get stronger, yet I think he could end up being a worthwhile late round selection for the Panthers. In Patrikainen, Pelicans has a reliable and consistent goalie with strong net coverage. He’s notably calm and doesn’t get easily rattled. Though Patrikainen didn’t make the September 2019 NHL Draft Rankings, he’s a goalie to keep a close eye on.

Pelicans U20 has made the quarterfinals in the last two seasons. This season, they seem to have the type of a team that could proceed even further in the spring. Typically, Pelicans teams have been physical, relentless and highly competitive – now they appear to have some more skill in the roster. They have a very good number one goalie, a strong first line, and some good depth at forward. Moreover, the defense hasn’t allowed a whole lot of shots against so far either.