On January 6, Kärpät U20 traveled to Rovaniemi to play RoKi. The visitors were as good as advertised and earned a lopsided 6-0 win. They maintained puck possession in the offensive zone for long periods and defended compactly in all three zones. Kärpät players also blocked quite a few shots and forwards’ checking game was effective. Kalle Loponen, Arttu Tuomaala and Ville Koivunen each recorded one goal and two assists. Elias Korpela was solid in RoKi net and stopped 32 of 38 shots. Below are notes on five players who stood out in the game.
03 F Samu Tuomaala (Kärpät)
Tuomaala had a strong game offensively for Kärpät. He recorded 13 shot attempts and also had a team-high seven shots on goal. On his goal he was left unmarked and fired a quick one-timer from the slot. He could create space for himself after gaining the offensive zone – showed great poise and dangled opponents on a couple of occasions. An intelligent and flashy player who consistently made skilled plays in the game. Tuomaala is also a very strong skater with speed, balance and a great glide.
03 F Ville Koivunen (Kärpät)
Koivunen had a strong game – stood out both offensively and defensively. He is a crafty and intelligent winger who makes the right decisions all over the ice. He scored a nice goal where he was strong on the puck and showed fast stickhandling to get into a good scoring position. He can operate with the puck with limited time and space. He had a quick, sturdy stick and worked hard to win puck battles. His skating is not high end, but I think his stride is cleaner than last season and his durability and speed have also gotten better.
02 D Arttu Paaso (Kärpät)
Paaso logged 21:09 of ice-time on Kärpät’s first pairing, the second most on his team. He was steady and dependable on the back end for Kärpät. He had a quick stick and he was effective at breaking up plays. He took smart angles. He is a smooth and economical skater and has the footwork to pressure opponents quickly. On his goal he had room in the middle and picked his spot well with a quick wrist shot on high glove side. He took good care of the puck, showing poise and making a firm first pass out of the defensive zone.
03 F Joonas Lohisalo (Kärpät)
Lohisalo was very good and had several scoring chances. He opened the scoring on the power play as he reacted quickly and scored on a rebound. He had good technical skills and carried the puck well up the ice. He showed good use of his body and reach to protect the puck, keeping defenders at bay. He has a hard, blistering shot and moved into good spots to use it. Lots to like about the 17-year-old winger: he has speed, puck skills, scoring ability and vision. A real sleeper prospect to keep tabs on for the 2021 NHL Draft.
02 D Hannes Häkkilä (Kärpät)
Häkkilä displayed impressive puck moving abilities at both ends of the ice. He looked comfortable at the point on the power play and delivered crisp, accurate passes that arrived on the tape. Swift hands and very good puck control. Much like above-mentioned Paaso, he is a smooth skater and moves quite effortlessly around the ice. His decision making was sound and he constantly looked in control from the back end. However, Häkkilä is on the smaller side, lacks situational toughness and can get pushed around a bit easily. If he improves his physicality, the late 2002 could be an impact player at the next level.