On Sunday Kärpät sacked head coach Mikko Haapakoski, stating, with commendable understatement, that the results so far this season were not in line with expectations. Into his barely warm shoes steps Hannu Aravirta, a man revered in many parts of this country due to his elongated tenure of the national team. In many parts of the country, perhaps, but not this particular corner. His achievements as Finland’s head coach can be summarised harshly, but not unfairly, as won nothing, lost two World Championship finals from winning positions, and failing to develop the high quality squad he inherited. Let’s see how quickly he can establish order on the ice, something we are chronically lacking at the moment, as evidenced by Haapakoski’s last game in charge.
This saw us suffer our second successive 3-5 home defeat. On the plus side we played, for some substantial periods anyway, our best ice hockey of the season. On the minus side, sadly, there is rather more. Fundamentally, we didn’t play as a team; many of the players gave the impression that they barely knew each other. It’s worth remembering the old adage that teams are built and not bought. On the ice, this manifested itself as repeatedly struggling to bring the puck out of our own defensive zone, attackers being left free in front of net as two defenders chased the same attacker, getting in each other’s way or two of our players leaving the puck for each other and an opponent taking it. At the individual level both Sicak and Rosa had terrible games, the former almost constantly unable to deal with Blues’ forechecking pressure and the latter avoiding almost all contact and twice making recklessly dangerous passes in his own defensive zone. Kreps was at times brilliant, most noticeably in creating the opening goal, and at other times anonymous. Tenkrat showed plenty of commitment, scored a goal from a somewhat unconvincing shot, but things aren’t quite clicking for him in the way they once used to. One of our best players on the night was, again, Kimmo Koskenkorva, a man we apparently regard as surplus to requirements. All in all, plenty for Aravirta to get stuck in to. Blues came into this game having scored a solitary goal in total during their last three outings. During this game they didn’t do anything particularly special; they just stuck to the basics and made sure they did them properly. Above all, though, they played as a team, not a collection of individuals.