Posts Tagged ‘ice hockey’


The British Journal of Sports Medicine recently published a story to say that unhealthy eating is a key cause to obesity. I’m surprised that it has taken this long for doctors to come out and say it. The study dispels the fact that as long as you exercise you can eat whatever you want, which to be honest sounded like total bullshit when it was first announced. The main gripe I have with the study, or rather the way it was reported, was that the headlines lead you to believe that  just by eating healthy, you could get away with doing no exercise.

The eating habits of people in general are bad and are too marketing driven. It is every day that we are bombarded with different marketing messages from producers that proclaim that their product is the healthiest thing going, or some athlete peddling overpriced sugar water to us, with the promise that if you drink it, you will be a shit hot athlete.

Where I actually welcome the findings of this study, the scientific community has to take some blame in the way that we are eating, simply because we have been exposed to a number of ‘scientific’ reports to say that you should eat XYZ foods, whilst the studies are often sponsored by parties with a vested interest in their outcomes.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post where I was venting about the crap that we eat, I don’t claim to be a nutritionist, but I pay more attention to what I put in my body and try to avoid processed foods as much as I can. My main weakness is energy drinks, which in honesty are probably the worst things to hit the shelves of the supermarket and in my honest opinion should carry a health warning the same as cigarettes. (Then again all fast food should as well. I’m looking at you McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC etc).

The only thing I disagree with the study is that I think that healthy diet and exercise are core fundamentals of a healthy lifestyle. Just eating healthy doesn’t mean that you are going to be able to shed weight as fast as you can if you exercise AND eat healthy.

Eating healthy is sometimes challenging, well it isn’t if you’re willing to make small adjustments, but given the modern lifestyle, it is easier to go to the nearest store /café to get your lunch. Where I do want to support smaller, independent businesses and café owners, the fact of the matter is that the lunch options at supermarkets are inherently bad for you. You have sandwiches filled with sugar laden sauces and with a meal deal you get a fizzy sugary drink, a bag of crisps and/or a Mars/Snickers bar. If you work in a sedentary environment where the only physical exercise you get is the walk to the store, or worse yet, you drive. Do this for a full year, with all the vending machine snacks, the pounds are bound to start piling on. Then if you rely on your lunch from places like Costa or one of the other million Starbucks stores, your choices of a decent meal are pretty slim. There are advertised ‘healthy options’ such as salads, which on their own are fine, but add in the sauce that is included with the salad, and hey presto, you’ve got yourself another sugary meal. Also, the sandwich options often leave something to be desired for.

Like I said in my previous post about food, I’m not a nutritionist and everything I know about it is purely trial and error and finding what works for me. Due to the sport that I play, I try and eat a high protein and low carb diet during the off season and then increase the amount of carbs for game days during the season. From my personal view, I try and make sure I eat plenty of greens, lean meats and try and avoid the bad things in life, but I am only human and I do allow myself a treat every now and again.

I think what the food industry has done over the years is that it has lobbed us to eat wrong. Not a day goes by that we aren’t reading about this and that food being bad for you or increasing your risk of serious diseases. We’re being told on one hand that green tea is good for you and then on the other that it can increase your risk of cancer. What is often left out in the reports such as these is the amounts you would need to consume for it to have effect, but a headline of “FOOD X GIVES YOU CANCER” will drive more clicks to your website than a reasonable “Consuming too much of food X is bad for you” headline.

I feel that supermarkets are not in it to promote the healthy lifestyle as much as they should and still too often promote products that should not be part of a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, a lot of the ‘healthy’ range of products are something that I wouldn’t put in my mouth. If you look at it from a political point of view, it being the election and all, there’s even greater threat to the food supply if the powers that be push through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which would potentially allow genetically modified foods to enter the supermarket shelves.

In either case, what I guess I’m trying to say is, eat healthy. Cut down on the sugary foods you have at home. Make sure you teach your kids about food and involve them in cooking. Do the exercise. Yes I know the gym isn’t for everyone, but you don’t have to necessarily go to the gym to be healthy as there are other ways to get fit.


This article was originally published in the Bristol Pitbulls programme in our match against the Swindon Wildcats. Bits in Italics are new additions to the post.

A while ago, I posted a picture on Instagram and lifting the lid on my mental health issues. To be honest, I have been wanting to do this write up for a long time, but haven’t – for one reason or another – had the guts to do it. When I initially posted the picture, I did not expect the avalanche of messages, “likes” or subsequent re-tweets – though I find it rather rather ironic that you have to ‘like’ someone’s status about mental illness. I did not post the picture to get likes or re-tweets, but rather to show people that there are those who deal with mental health issues within a competitive, semi-professional sports environment.  This was brought on by some comments I had seen on various social media platforms and club officials calling others “mentally ill.” This article has not been written so that I can go on some ego-trip, but to encourage talk around the issues of mental health in a competitive sports environment.

Where in “normal” society, the stigma around depression and mental illness has dissipated and it is better understood, it is still carries a stigma within sports. I’m not saying that everyone is understanding about depression and would rather people just ‘shake it off’. However, in sports it is often seen as a weakness and players can be seen as ‘damaged goods’ as depression can hinder the career prospects of a professional athlete, or a prospect. In the world of sports, specifically in hockey, chirping is part of the game. If someone publicly states that they suffer from depression, you can expect that opponents will make use of it to try and gain a mental edge.

I have been dealing with depression and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) since November last year, or at least that’s when I sought help, while in honesty, I’ve been probably dealing with these problems for a lot longer. Rather than confront my issues I started to spiral downwards and I had come to the point where I felt that ending it all would be the best option. I was unable to talk about how I felt, because at the time it would’ve felt like admitting defeat. Though I now realise that I should have sought help sooner.

Before then, it was a real struggle at home, at work, at hockey and at the gym. I was having anxiety attacks before I could walk into the office or any other public place and always wanted to be the first one in the changing room so I could get settled. I felt I had to put a face on to be in any situation that required any form of social interaction. In truth, I would’ve rather been curled up in a ball on the floor.

It was – and still is at times – an emotional drain to go to a social situation, but at least I am not at a point where I feel like people (people that I don’t even know), are talking crap about me. I was getting really paranoid about things, even when going to town, I would think that people around were constantly talking about me or judging me. The same would go on at the gym, where normally, I would listen to my own music, but had to start taking my headphones out to make sure some meatheads weren’t talking crap about me.

So why speak out? I feel that there isn’t enough talk about mental health in the world of pro-sports. While there are several noble causes, like #BellLetsTalk, I can’t remember than an active professional player would have spoken out about their issues. There are a number of cases where athletes have come forward post career to talk about it and it is admirable. But to have an active player stepping out and saying “I suffer from depression,” would certainly highlight the issue and to show that it is possible to succeed.

Am I worried about potential backlash from other players? No. During my career, I’ve had opponents/opposing fans say they wish “I’d die”, I’ve been called pretty much everything under the sun, but I try and approach it as part of the game and nothing personal. Besides, the beloved child has many names. My worst enemy on the ice is myself and it is something that I am working on. I set myself high standards and if I don’t meet those standards, I will get angry at myself and start to resent the whole game.

Why keep this from my teammates and coaches? To me this was a personal issue and not a problem the team had to deal with. I didn’t want any kind of special treatment from coaches or conversely (wrongly) that my ice time would be reduced because of this. Additionally, I didn’t want my teammates to act different around me or watch what they had to say. They don’t and it was the group of guys in the room that kept my sanity.

But won’t that be true now, I hear you ask. Well, it might be, but I am in a good place now where it doesn’t affect me in the way that it did in the past. There was a time when I had to block certain social media channels (such as @NIHLNewz on twitter) because the stuff, where intended as a joke, was really getting to me, even though I only received two tweets from said account. It is all well and good to joke and to have a laugh in the team environment and with the fans, but when it comes to the online realm, it is always worth remembering that there is a person behind the joke you are making, and you can never truly know how they might feel about it.

There has been a lot of talk about mental health of late and some media outlets have stigmatised the issue in the aftermath of the GermanWings tragedy. “News” outlets such as the Daily Mail have made a big splash about it, reporting on its front page “Why on earth was he allowed to fly”, implying that any depressed person should not be allowed to operate machinery of any kind. There was also a tweet from a professional Twitter troll Katie Hopkins saying that “all depressed people need is a pair of running shoes and fresh air,” or that all depression is, is like standing in the rain with a Primark paper bag. To this I can only reply that Katie: I work out 5 times a week at the gym, I run 5 times per week and I play hockey at a competitive, semi-professional level and yet I am still struggling with mental health issues.

 

Where I do agree with the sentiment that exercise helps with mental health, it is not the only solution. I should know this, I went years without medication or seeking help and spiralled deeper and deeper . I find solace at the gym and weight lifting as well as hockey, but like I described above, when you are in the grips of depression, it is really, REALLY, difficult to actually get going and start moving. The threshold that you need to step over is monumental and if you haven’t experienced it yourself, it is difficult to understand. But to say that depression is something that is a minor nuisance (standing in a rain with a paper bag or your public transport running late) is just ignorant.

The reason why I wanted to lift the lid on this was to show that I am in a good place where I feel comfortable about talking about these issues and to show that even when the world drop-kicks you in the face it is possible to go on.  It is always worth carrying on. If me talking about it will help just one person, then it was definitely worth opening up about.  At the same time, whilst I’ve reached a ‘comfortable’ place mentally, I know I am not out of the woods yet, but every time I talk about this, or write about it, I feel better. So with that, if there is a reader out there that needs help, I’m here with open heart and ears.


  photo 8Stick specifications

Flex: 75

Weight: True A6.0 400 grams, True A5.2 425 grams

Blade Pattern: TC2 (similar to Nugent-Hopkins, Backstrom, Hall and/or Kopitar)

Grip coated

Price: A6.0: $259.99 (On Hockeymonkey.com) A5.2 $199.99 (On Hockeymonkey.com)

More information at: http://www.true-hockey.com/

True Hockey is a relatively new player to the stick market, even though the company behind the sticks has a long pedigree in golf (True Temper). True Hockey supplied us with two sticks to try out -its top of the range A6.0 and A5.2  – and to see how the sticks stack up against some of the more established brands in the market.

The True A6.0 is the top of the range stick within the True range and the True A5.2 stick is a high level stick that is packed with a lot of the features of the A6.0, though it weighs a fraction more than the A6.0.  Both of the sticks we are testing are 75flex and come in True’s TC2 blade pattern, which is similar to Bauer’s Backstrom, CCM’s Nugent-Hopkins, Easton’s Hall or Warrior’s Kopitar blade patterns. The blade is a toe curve, with round toe and open face, with a 6.0 lie.

The A6.0 is the lightest stick in the range, with the senior stick weighing just 400grams and the A5.2 weighing in at 425 grams. Where the sticks are – and feel – incredibly light, the Sher-Wood Rekker EK15 is still the lightest stick on the market. Having said that, the True A6.0 and A5.2 are sticks that are within the industry average when it comes to weight and beat a few top-end manufacturers on the weight front, meaning that the new comers can compete with the big boys.

Lookphoto 11

The True sticks look great. With a black/grey finish to the shaft of the stick, the product name is included on the shaft in electric blue, which makes it stand out. The design is really no-nonsense. It is slick but effective, whilst ensuring that it will standout at the stick racks at a store.  The other aspect that might make the True series of sticks standout in the stick rack is that the sticks are longer (out of box or rack) than most of the top marquees in the market.

 

 

Feel

photo 9 When we first started to play with the A6.0 and the A5.2, we felt that the sticks had a great feel to them. Even when first holding the sticks in your hands they feel super light and have a feel of a high-end product to them. The grip coating is not too heavy as it can be on some other sticks, where the coating can feel overbearing on the gloves.

When stick handling, both of the sticks give great feedback to your hands, meaning that you know at all times where the puck is. This has been achieved through True’s patented manufacturing process (Axenic Technology), where the blade is seamlessly co-molded to the shaft, creating a true one piece stick. This manufacturing process is different to the spear process used by some other manufacturers and we feel that the Axenic Technology is one of the real strengths of the True sticks.

The manufacturing process has allowed True Hockey to create a well balanced stick. In terms of balance, the A6.0 and A5.2 are on par with Sher-Wood’s sticks which are some of the best balanced sticks on the market. Both of the sticks are mid flex sticks and are maybe a touch softer at the top of the shaft than other sticks we’ve tried, but still provide you with incredible responsiveness to shots, particularly wrist shots during game play situations, when you need to get a shot off quickly. If the softer butt end will have you worried, we wouldn’t. The tip of the stick provides players with increased stability and accuracy for shooting.

Wristers and snap shots are easy to get away, we felt that with slap shots we got a bit more behind the shot as well. The stick produces great pop and you don’t have to do much work to get the stick loaded for the shot. Just as with the wrist shots, the slap shots are quick off the blade and thanks to the structure of the blade, they don’t turn into knuckle pucks either.

photo 10

As you move down the shaft and get to the blade, this is where the real beauty of the True sticks are. Both the True A6.0 and True A5.2 feature True’s Active Bond Technology II. This technology ensures that the blade maintains its original stiffness for longer periods of time. It is something that we have noticed that the blade will provide you with great pop on the shots. The blade also features 100% carbon fibre rib structure to provide additional durability of the blade. Much like the Sher-Wood Rekker EK15, the True A6.0 and A5.2 sticks will give you that new stick feel for longer, which will keep your shots crisper and accurate. Throughout using the sticks, every time we’ve hit the ice with these sticks, it feels like a stick that we have only just taken out of its wrappers and cut down to our liking.

We noticed that the sticks do improve your accuracy somewhat. Usually our shooting can miss a barn door, but with the True sticks we have been able to usually hit the net where we have wanted.

Durability:photo 5

Durability is always something that players look for in sticks. We want to be sure that the money we spend on sticks means that we will get a product that will last a long time and that we are not back at the retailers getting a new one within two months. After using the stick both outside to do shooting practice and in on-ice training and scrimmages, the stick has proved to be durable. In a hack and slash type of environment, the stick has only ‘suffered’ a few scuff marks on the shaft, which is normal for any hockey stick in active use.

With 75 flex sticks we really want to make sure that the sticks are capable of handling slap shots and one timers as often times, sticks at this flex range (and depending on manufacturing quality) have a tendency of breaking easily and earlier. Both the True A6.0 and A5.2 have held up well and only boast a few scuff marks on the shafts and the flex profiles on both sticks are still in original form, meaning that despite abusing the sticks on the ice they feel like new.

photo 6The drawbacks?

Despite trying to pick holes at True’s own literature and the stick to try and find something negative about them, we are quite pleased to say that despite being new to the market, True Hockey have created a product that is difficult to fault. There are great features built-in to both of the sticks and both A6.0 and A5.2 provide players with great levels of responsiveness, shooting accuracy and power.

Overall

The True A6.0 and A5.2 sticks are both high quality products. If we had to compare them to any of the existing manufacturers out there, we’d say that the True A6.0 is like CCM’s Tacks stick in terms of feel and performance. We are huge fans of the rigidity of the blade and the accuracy of the stick, which was something we noted when having a quick play on the Tacks. The A5.2 would be comparable to CCM Tacks 5052. That’s not to say that the True sticks are like for like for the Tacks (in our opinion the True sticks are better), it’s just a reference as True is a new player to the market.

True Temper has created a truly wonderful set of sticks that have quickly become our favourite sticks to use. We have had other players test the sticks True provided us with and the feedback has been nothing but positive (though some guys prefer a stiffer flex), so we are confident to say that these sticks are going to be a huge hit among players. The one thing that we did wonder was the price tag. True’s top of the range sticks (the A6.0 and A5.2) are priced at the levels of some of the top brands on the market. The sticks deserve that price tag due to the performance and build quality, but will that deter people from buying a stick from one of the new guys to the market? We hope it doesn’t because these sticks are simply AMAZING!

True hockey is expanding rapidly into the European market as well and any retailer picking up the True range will be making a great investment to their business as these sticks will become popular among players very quickly.

Pros:photo 4

  • Lightweight construction
  • True one piece stick
  • Responsiveness
  • Provide great pop for longer
  • Durable construction
  • Accuracy of shooting
  • One of the best blades on the market

Cons:

  • Price – May turn customers to more established brands

SuccessisbuiltFans always expect that their teams perform well – and ideally win every game – and fans have the absolute right to want success. There are expectations that teams and players need to meet, week in and week out. There are the expectations for the entire team from the fans and on an individual level, the expectations from the coaching staff.

 

Success is something that every player wants. For their team and for themselves. Otherwise, why play the game if you don’t want to succeed and not feel the elation of winning a game. Success is something that doesn’t magically happen on a game night. It is a long, drawn-out process throughout countless hours of work, sweat and pain. Success is built when there are no eyes on you. It happens at the gym, it happens on the roads, it happens on the bike. It even happens on the trainers table or with the physiotherapist. Success is built when you are on the ice with your team. It is built in bag skates, flow drills, set plays. It is built by countless and countless of repetitions of weights, drills, shots, jumps and miles pedalled on a bike.

 

Success is not something that is achieved overnight. Players can’t expect to be successful just by turning up to training and have the expectation that their effort on the ice will guarantee them success in the long run. The hockey season is a gruelling ride, with all its bumps and bruises and frustrations. What the fans see, is the culmination of all the work that has been taking place out of sight.

 

Success requires commitment. It requires hard work. It requires sacrifice. It requires discipline. It requires a goal, something that unifies a group of individuals to come together and work for that goal. It means leaving personal differences aside and playing for the logo on the front of your jersey and for the goal of becoming a champion.

 

The commitment fuels motivation and success, that success will player through a rock when it comes to crunch time. But all this underpinned by the work that each player does on and off the ice when the stands are empty and when no one is watching you.

 

The signs of success, are not seen on the ice in a 60 minute game. It is seen in the sweat dripping on to the gym floor and on to the ice.  


ImageThe CCM 4 Roll Pro gloves were a hit when CCM brought it to the market two years ago. IT brought the 4-roll glove in nylon since the CCM 925 glove that was phased out by the Vector and then the U+ range. The 4-Roll Pro II has undergone a serious re-design and the gloves now look more like the Bauer 4-Roll pro (now Nexus range). So what else has changed in the glove apart from the look?

 

The gloves have a similar feel to some of CCM’s other gloves that use the build from inside out methodology and actually feel really comfortable on the hand. CCM has mastered the art of making some of the most comfortable gloves on the market and the 4-Roll Pro II is following in the same path.

 

The biggest difference to the previous 4-Roll Pro glove is the cuff. CCM has made the cuff on the 4-Roll Pro II smaller and has left some of the elements out that were in the first line of products. The smaller cuff really improves the way you can stick handle. In the previous glove the CCM logo was stitched onto the cuff, but this time the company has used sturdy lettering to display its wares.

 

Breaking in:

Thanks to the glove being nylon covered, it is lightweight and that gloves are pretty much ready to use and game ready the minute you pick them up from a store. However as with any new kit, we recommend that you wear it for a couple of training sessions before you use it in a game, but the CCM 4-Roll Gloves are quick to break in and offer you a good level of comfort and responsiveness quickly.

 

Ventilation:

Image

Inside ventilation on the CCM gloves

Compared to the previous model of the 4-Roll Pro gloves, the ventilation is much improved. To be fair, the glove’s ventilation is very similar to that on the Bauer Nexus gloves. However, when trying out the two different gloves, to our hands the CCM 4-Roll Pro glove liner felt more comfortable than that of the Bauer one.

During game play, it is only natural that the gloves get wet. The CCM inner liner actually stays relatively dry, while the palm itself gets quite wet, and if you don’t have dryers to your disposal at the game, the glove can be quite uncomfortable toward a particularly heavy training session or game.

 

Protection:

CCM has used PE inserts in the glove and on all the rolls of the glove to give good protection from slashes and pucks. In the previous model the rolls and fingers actually had a very thin metal plate within it, which added a bit to the weight of the glove.

The thumb of the glove uses a three piece design like the previous version of the glove. We actually preferred the thumb design of the first gen of the 4-Roll Pro gloves. On the current one, the thumb area feels a bit un-protected at the tip.

 

Overall though, the levels of protection offered by the glove is really good and it doesn’t sacrifice any bit of the usability of the glove.

 

Quality and value for money:

Image

The grey patches are where holes were patched up, due to the poor quality of the palm

This is where the CCM 4-Roll Pro II disappoints big time. The palms of the glove wear out really fast and it is only after a couple of uses that you’ll  see the top hand’s palm starting to wear out. What was weird was that the pair we had also wore out from the finger really quickly (also on our top hand) which is something that hasn’t happened before.

 

Additionally, the bottom hand’s palm wore out quickly and actually left a sizeable hole in it. This is something that hasn’t happened with any other gloves we have used in during the career. With CCM gloves it is usually the top palm that wears out, but this is the first time that the lower hand’s palm wore out. Compared to the Sher-Wood T70 glove where after a season’s use the palms are still intact and the gloves are in top shape, the CCM really disappointed us with the wear and tear element.

 

The biggest disappointment in the build quality came when the seam between the palm and the actual glove broke down, leaving a big gap on the side of the glove and exposed the hand, which leaves serious questions, whether people should invest a relatively large chunk of money on these gloves as they seem to be made from paper.

 

In the end we ended up taking the gloves to repairs and ended up paying almost the same price for the repairs as the gloves themselves!

 

Conclusion:

Image

Further repair work, where the sutures on the palm came off from the main glove. Further disappointment for the overall build quality

It is a real shame that the quality of the gloves leaves A LOT to desire for. The gloves are genuinely comfortable to wear and ease stick handling. There’s a lot to like in these gloves, in terms of the features, but judging by the pair we’ve been trying out, we’re questioning whether you should actually buy them because of the quality problems.

If you are set on buying these gloves, be prepared to budget in repairs for them as well, or alternatively be prepared to buy another set of gloves mid season or at the end of the season. It is a real shame as we really liked the previous 4-Rolls from CCM and they’ve lasted a lot better than the new range of 4-Roll gloves.

However, we do hope that CCM keep the 4-Roll Pro in its line up, but that the company makes some serious efforts in improving the overall quality of the palm materials.

 

 

Pros:

  • Good fit
  • Easy to break in
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Eases stick handling
  • Light weight

Cons

  • The palm is not durable at all
  • Poor build quality
  • Poor price vs quality ratio

At the Stockholm group of the World Championships, there has been a minor upset brewing in the form of the Swiss hockey team. The Stockholm group of the World Championships was touted to be the tougher of the two groups as it featured talent packed teams, such as Sweden, Canada and Czech Republic. No one could have guessed that the Swiss that are stealing the limelight.

In the opening game of the tournament, the Swiss handed a 3-2 loss to the hosts Sweden and then carried on the run of upsets by beating Canada in the penalty shoot out and then convincingly seeing off the Czech team by 5-2.

The team is comprised of players who play in the Swiss National League. The only NHL name that might be familiar to people is Nashville Predators’ defence man Roman Josi or New York Islander’s prospect Nino Niedereitter. The other recognisable name in the Swiss roster to most hockey fans is goalie Martin Gerber, who won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006.

The Swiss have so far faced and won the toughest countries in its group  – and barring a complete disaster – should be progressing into the second stage of the competition as a team that should not be taken lightly. In the past few years it has been the Swiss who have taken the biggest strides in terms of developing their standard of players and their results at the World Championships stage and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Swiss were in medal contention this year.

The team is getting steady scoring from all lines and in goal, Gerber has been strong, posting a 1.92 GAA and 92.31 Save percentage in three starts. Perhaps if the Swiss keep going the way they have been, we might see them in the medal games this year. Though it would take a lot to see them in the final, the Swiss could be on the way to building its own Cinderella story for this year’s World Championships.

 

To get the best deals on hockey equipment, please visit Nekoti Hockey by clicking the image above. When registering your account use virtanen as your agent password to get 20% off on all purchases

To get the best deals on hockey equipment, please visit Nekoti Hockey by clicking the image above. When registering your account use virtanen as your agent password to get 20% off on all purchases


With three games played in the World Championships, Finland has shown some promise in the early going. However, where the team has won all of its games (surrendered one point to Germany in opening game), there are areas within the team that do need a bit of work before heading to big games against USA and Russia.

 

Here are a couple of great surprises to myself that I did not expect when the roster was first announced:

1)      Antti Raanta: Not really a surprise to many, but given that I only saw Youtube highlights and a the stories of his and his team’s Cinderella run to the Finnish championship. Raanta has only appeared in one game so far, but will likely carry the goaltending duties against USA and Russia which will be his biggest test to date. The shutout against Slovakia was a showing of his talents, specially during the phases of the game when Finland were helplessly lost. According to Raanta’s agent, there are as many as five NHL teams after his signature and KHL is not an option.

2)      Sami Lepisto: For the past couple of years Lepisto has been an enigma, not only to myself, but to many Finns. During the EHT in Czech Republic, Lepisto was hopelessly lost in the defensive zone. When his name was announced on the final roster and you saw him in the top D pairing, many jaws fell to the floor. The positive thing is that Sami Lepisto has responded to his critics the best way possible and has raised his game and has started playing up to his potential.

3)      The first line: Aaltonen – Kontiola – Pesonen has been what the coach wanted out of the trio. Couple of the guys (Aaltonen and Pesonen) have been part of Jalonen’s teams since taking over as a coach. Kontiola has featured in the teams as well, but has been left to a limited role. This year, he has been thrust into the fore and has responded beautifully. In the three games that he has played he has notched up 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points, which at the time of writing entitles him to the top scorer slot in the World Championships, ahead of Ilya Kovalchuck.

Things to improve upon

1)      Powerplay: Against Germany it was terrible (2 out of 9) and against Slovakia it was slightly better, but not great and against France, well it’s not really there. Special teams can be the difference maker in a tournament like this. The Finns seem a bit too content to chip the puck behind the net and chip it to the slot to a guy who is surrounded by two or three opposing players. It’s not really working so far.

2)      Play-book: Finland has often looked like they come out slow from the gates. It’s like watching a Diesel engine get going. Takes a while but when it gets going, it gets going. Slow starts like this are not going to be good against Russia and USA. Finland plays a puck possession game and likes to control the tempo of the game and for some reason I see this as a weakness, specially as the teams they will be facing will be stacked with individual talent, which can lead to trouble. However, hockey is a team game and is not decided on Individual talent.

3)      Scoring: Most of the scoring relies on the top line at the moment. Where the Finns have received some scoring assistance from the other lines, majority of the scoring responsibility has lied on the shoulders of the first line. Finland needs secondary scoring in-order to compete for a medal.

 

So there, a few thoughts on the Finns and how they are doing so far. There are big areas for the Finns to improve on, but given what the team has, many have been impressed by the team’s determination and guts. Are the Finns on pace for a medal? Time will tell. It would be easy to jump on the bandwagon and book the market square in Helsinki for the celebration, but it’s a long tournament and where the toughest games are still yet to come.