Blues 3 - 2 JYP (RL)
Ilves 2 - 5 Pelicans
Kärpät 5 - 2 TPS
Three games tonight in SM-liiga, in Espoo, Tampere and Oulu. Blues hosted JYP, and eventually won on penalties, Tommi Huhtala getting the decisive goal. They did it the hard way too, hauling in a JYP two goal lead, built up in half an hour with goals from Kristian Näkyvä and Harri Pesonen, thanks to replies from Petri Lammassaari and Camilo Miettinen.
TPS made the journey to Raksila. Their recent form has been good, enabling them to climb to mid-table respectability, and with Kärpät suffering from injuries (Lehtonen, Mäntymaa, Eklund, Saarenheimo and Haataja are all missing), they must have arrived with a good sense of optimism. What greeted them, however, were the front two chains firing on all cylinders. Juho Keränen and Miikka Salomäki scored a brace apiece, alternating to ratchet up a four goal lead before the clock reached half an hour. Mikko Laine replied with a power play goal late in the second period, but in the third Joonas Donskoi restored the four goal advantage while short-handed, before Marko Anttila completed the scoring with the visitors’ second goal.
Meanwhile in Hakametsä, Ilves took on Pelicans. Well I exaggerate: Ilves may be a fierce feline and Pelican a gormless bird, but in the fight that took place this evening, the bird was a lot more astute, decisive and had a far bigger bite than the soft pussy. The final score flattered Ilves: Ville Koistinen scored from close in when a ricocheting puck squirted his way, and was accredited with the second when Niko Hovinen saved his rasping drive, but then Jarkko Immonen, trying to glove the puck away to safety, succeeded only in putting it into his own net. By the time Ilves opened their account, however, Pelicans already had five on the board, and with not too much luck it could have been even more. Man of the match Max Wärn and Aaron Brocklehurst both scored twice and Arttu Luttinen got the other. Pelicans don’t have any star names in their team — their finances are very modest so they probably couldn’t afford any big names even if they wanted to — but Kai Suikkanen has got the whole team playing well as a unit.
Pelicans’ win makes them the new league leaders, three points clear of Jokerit who have three games in hand. Kärpät’s win lifts us to third place, level on points with the pyjama men, but, like Pelicans, having also played 11 games. Blues stay in seventh place, though the gap to eighth placed TPS now stretches to four points. JYP’s point takes them above Tappara, and Ilves stay very firmly next to bottom. Tampere’s two clubs now occupy two of the bottom three positions.