Cover photo: Tomi Jokela / All Over Press
1998 born HPK forward Jere Innala has put together an excellent season in the Liiga. He taken his offensive game to another level and has seen his ice-time increase significantly from the past season. At the same time, Innala has developed into a more complete player, one who can be counted on to produce and score important goals for his team.
Innala’s game is highlighted by his strong offensive skill set, hockey sense and skating. The 5’9″ tall winger is a crafty player who possesses excellent stickhandling skills. He can be equally adept as a playmaker and goal-scorer, making him tough to contain in the offensive zone. He can make plays under pressure and find seams with high-level passing. Ever since I saw him play for HPK U18 four seasons ago, he has gradually improved his offensive game. In addition, Innala is an agile and skilled skater with very quick feet. He uses short strides for quick bursts of acceleration. However, I wouldn’t consider him a particularly physical player, nor a defensive specialist. But I really like his offensive abilities and smarts.
In this goal, Innala displays impressive poise before feeding the puck and receiving it back in a very good scoring position. His accurate and quick wrist shot can beat goalies cleanly, even from further out. He has a good one-timer as well. He’s a purposeful shooter and can pick his spots well.
Innala has amassed 45 points in 59 games this season, with still one game remaining before the start of the playoffs. His 24 goals are the most by a U21 player in the 21st century, according to eliteprospects.com. Moreover, Innala’s goal total slots him in the top-20 on Liiga’s all-time list among U21 players. It’s also worth noting that he has scored 18 goals in the last 33 games since December.
It will be interesting to see how far Innala can go in his pro career. He was a key player for the HPK U20 team that won gold two seasons ago. Now that he has established himself as a strong Liiga player, I would imagine that he will garner interest from North America and other European top leagues. The future looks bright for the highly talented forward.