Finnish Junior Hockey is excited to present its choice for the top player in the Finnish U18 league for the 2019-20 season. We have included two honorable mentions who were also considered and deserve recognition. Unfortunately the season was cut short and thus there were no playoffs this year. On a more positive note, the league featured lots of good teams and players and the regular season offered many exciting games.
Best Player of the 2019-20 Season: Forward Ville Koivunen – Kärpät
Ville Koivunen put together an excellent season and continued from where he left off at U16’s. The Kärpät winger has an excellent understanding of the game. He has very good offensive instincts and thinks the game a step ahead of many players on the ice. He takes smart forecheck routes and his checking game is effective. Moreover, Koivunen has high-level puck skills. He uses soft hands and deft first touch to make opponents miss and he has the ability to both score and set up his teammates for chances.
Honorable Mention: Forward Santeri Koskela – JYP
JYP center Santeri Koskela made significant strides in his second U18 season and finished second in scoring on his team. However, it was his versatility and leadership that caught our eye over the course of the season. He is a dependable, hard-working forward who can play in any situation. He scored important, timely goals and proved to be a consistent scoring threat. He has developed into a strong skater, his acceleration has improved and he can carry speed through the neutral zone for effective zone entries.
Honorable Mention: Defenseman Niko Liiri – JYP
The right-shot blueliner was the top scoring defenseman in the league, amassing 43 points in 47 games, and logged plenty of ice-time. Liiri is a mobile defenseman who skates well in all directions. He is light on his skates and the puck does not slow him down. He can carry the puck from his own end and move away from pressure to find open ice. He plays with his head up to survey the ice. He makes a good, crisp first pass and he is calculated with possession. He uses his stick well to disrupt opponents and take away their time and space. Liiri was very consistent in our viewings as well.