Blues 3 - 0 Tappara (0-0)(0-0)(3-0)
HIFK 1 - 4 KalPa (0-1)(1-1)(0-2)
Ilves 1 - 3 JYP (0-0)(0-1)(1-2)
Pelicans 5 - 0 HPK (2-0)(3-0)(0-0)
TPS 4 - 3 Jokerit (JA)(0-2)(2-0)(1-1)(1-0)
Ässät 5 - 2 Kärpät (0-0)(3-1)(2-1)
I watched the HIFK game and I’ll try to find the time later on to write a report about it, but for the moment, here are tonight’s results.
So then, HIFK versus KalPa in Helsinki. As someone who is largely neutral (neither team ranks among my favourites nor my pet hates, though I’ll admit to a bias for a KalPa victory) it would be easy to adopt a somewhat disinterested stance about this game. No chance! This was a gripping, exciting, high quality game with a final score that belies the true run of the match. The home side were dominant for large tracts of the hour, driving relentlessly at a fast and furious pace. They opened up the KalPa defence numerous times but failed to score from any of the chances thanks to Ari Ahonen’s outstanding performance in the away goal, any number of yellow jerseys sacrificing their body parts to block the shot, forwards fannying completely on the shot, and the pipe work rescuing KalPa twice. Despite the onslaught, the visitors were in no way out of the game, and launched their own high speed counter attacks and sometimes sustained assaults on the home goal. Their inter-passing and movement bettered even that of their hosts. Many players from both sides enjoyed sterling performances: Petteri Wirtanen and Mikael Granlund to the fore for HIFK, and Tuomas Kiiskinen and Sakari “one minute man” Salminen, in addition to Ahonen, were notable for the visitors. Kiiskinen, in particular, was at times electrifying, the Helsinki defence containing him only with great difficulty. Juuso Riksman in the home goal made a number of good saves, but at other times looked somewhat unconvincing. Of more importance though were the defenders in front of him, some of whom were plain flaky. Both Mikko Kousa and Markus Kankaanperä were error prone, and a mistake by the former would prove critical.
KalPa took the lead on 11:15 when Ossi Saarinen got sufficiently free in front of goal to get a clean shot past Riksman following a face off in the HIFK defensive zone. Rather improbably given the home side pressure, this was extended early in the second period when a HIFK defensive “clearance” went off the back board to Kiiskinen whose shot from a narrow angle went through Riksman. Wirtanen scored HIFK’s only reply from a penalty shot, awarded when the same man was hauled down from behind when in the act of attempting to beat Ahonen. The penalty employed no tactics: straight down the ice and shoot through the goalie’s legs, Ahonen giving the impression of being sat on a horse. Shortly afterwards, there was an almighty goal mouth scramble in the KalPa goal, that developed into what appeared to be a game of British Bulldog. When it was over, all 10 outfield players, plus two of the officials, were piled in a heap on top of Ahonen. Where the puck was is anybody’s guess. The game got beyond HIFK towards the end of the third when Kousa made a mess of a straightforward defensive situation, and then, when trying to rectify it, succeeded only in passing the puck to Salminen. The KalPa winger advanced on goal and gave Riksman not an earthly with a vicious shot. Scoring was wrapped up on 59:44 when Mikko Kukkonen found the untended net from behind his own red line.