Ilves played their first ever game at their new home of Pirkkahalli on Friday and the 7 time champions destroyed FC Rauma to officially open the new venue.
We start off the match with an early goal, FC Rauma in no trouble at all in defence but Juhana Jyrkiänen walks straight up to the defender and takes the ball off him with ease, passes it across to Niko Stenholm who puts us 1-0 up after 4 and a half minutes played.
The second goal came less than two minutes later through more bad defending, Jaakko Laitinen dribbling through the middle and passing to an unmarked Tomi Lahtinen who couldn’t miss from close range. We were made to wait until the second half for the next goal, 22 minutes on the clock before last season’s hero Timur Inapshba gets an assist from his corner kick, straight to Antti Teittinen on the edge of the area who one times it into the far corner of the net, game over.
Five minutes after that we make it 4-0, beautiful one touch passing in a triangle around FC Rauma, Jyrkiänen setting up Petri Grönholm to get on the score sheet as he put it passed Joni Kuusisto. Then came goal number five, fairly similar to the one we had scored 2 minutes earlier, short, fast passing and Lahtinen got his second of the game, Inapshba assisting.
We were not going to stop at just 5-0, Valtteri Similä blasting a half volley into the net, a great scoreline to send the large crowd home happy, we did have time to score just one more though, Stenholm who opened the scoring got the assist on Jyrkiänen‘s second of the night, another from outside of the area, low and hard into the bottom right hand corner, no chance for Kuusisto in goal.
Great scoreline and our impressive new home and wooden floor remains undefeated, a perfect performance and a clean sheet, just what you want on your new home debut.
Ilves defeated in the third period in Kuopio tonight, the teams in the bottom four are beginning to close the gap, just 8 points separate us from Ässät in 11th now, but also on the positive side 3rd place is just 6 points above us.
Ville Korhonen was the hero for us earlier in the season when his late 2 goals won us the game but we were well beaten tonight, Pekka Tuokkola only needing to make 14 saves.
Sami Kapanen is The Raimo Helminen of Kuopio and the veteran put KalPa ahead one minute into the second period, Ilves were on the attack but let the puck get loose, Koivisto got it out to Kapanen who rounded Järvenpää to make it 1-0. Ilves were behind for only 68 seconds when Kai Kantola squeezed passed Foss who fell over trying to keep up with him and passed it back to Sami Sandell who took a touch before scoring on Tuokkola’s near side.
Ilves soon took the lead on the powerplay, Gysbers passing along the line to Keränen, slapshot straight at the KalPa goalie but Turo Asplund was there to take the rebound in off the far post, 1-2. The lead was to last 10 minutes, Adam Masuhr scored after some terrible ilves defending, disappointing but not undeserved goal, 2-2 after 40.
KalPa retook the lead on the powerplay, Ilves defending well but unable to clear the puck and eventually Jukka Voutilainen who scored a tap in from 1.5 meters out with only 1 second left on the Tommi Välimaa penalty. Ilves went all out in search of a third goal but even with a powerplay and then pulling Järvenpää we still couldn’t find it, Joonas Riekkinen sealing all 3 points for the home side with his empty netter to make it 4-2, a night to forget in Kuopio.
Juha Järvenpää was 11+11+0 on the night, his counterpart 4+4+6, showing that Ilves just didn’t have the attacking threat to finish this game, next up for us JYP and that game is tomorrow at 17.00. JYP coming off a big home win vs Pelicans, not the easiest game to have to go into for us, but we must make more attempts on goal, hopefully Kolppanen will be back in net for this.
We hadn’t beaten TPS this season and sadly we still haven’t, unlucky not to get more than just a point out of this game, despite TPS winning in overtime they fell to 14th place in the league.
After scoring 10 goals in our last two games I expected us to continue in good form, the first period was goal-less however. Kai Kantola was on the receiving end of a dangerous tackle from behind that saw Jere Pulli get a 10 minute penalty, not dissimilar to the kind of tackle in the same corner that cut open Atte Pentikäinen last month.
The second period was also lacking in goals until 31:42 when Slovakian Milan Jurcina scored on a Sami Sandell penalty, a pretty scrappy goal in the end but they all count.
The third period is when Ilves woke up, Järventie passing from half-way to Michael Keränen who takes it over the blue line on the left side and hits a beautiful shot right into the corner, unstoppable. TPS attacked from the restart and Ville Korhonen from his own defensive zone made an intelligent pass onto the stick of Antti Hölli on a breakaway, Hölli faked the shot, then took his goal, instantly Ilves have turned the game around. Well, for three minutes anyway.. TPS score an obviously offside goal by Palmroth, it stands anyway and we go to overtime.
Now we have a tradition of letting former players score, Anttila, Seikola.. now step up Matias Sointu, Kolppanen’s save falls straight onto his stick and our former hero turns villain as he has the last shot of the night, two points travel to Turku as TPS travel to JUMBO.
Next up for us is a trip to Kuopio to face KalPa on Friday.
After my extended holiday I’m back and so is Ilves’ form, 2 great back to back wins firstly Thursday beating Blues 5-1 and then travelling up to Oulu to snap Kärpät’s winning streak by beating them 2-5. The football season has ended and no promotion for Ilves this year but a strong showing and a respectable 4th place, yet still 18 points off promotion. And finally the Futsal season is back up and running and I’ll be covering that as Ilves look to once again retain our Championship title.
Next up: Ilves FS vs FC Rauma and in Liiga: Ilves vs TPS on Tuesday.
This is the form of Champions, beating arguably the biggest team in Finland, the team with the biggest budget and some of the country’s best players in their own areena last night was a declaration that Ilves are ready to challenge for the title this season, after 28 years could we finally see Finland’s most successful hockey organisation get their hands on the poikka for the 17th time?
Hartwall Areena, Helsinki,
Just 1:39 into the opening period and Roberts Jekimovs goes on a solo run in on goal, turning the defenders and taking the puck around the keeper like it was Evgeni Malkin in the number 91 shirt, such a great goal right in front of the strong number of travelling support from Tampere.
Ilves then went on to see two players go to the penalty box, firstly Kangasniemi, then Näppilä, our defence has become something legendary this season and Jokerit couldn’t get the equalising goal, they kept the pressure on us but Sami Sandell got the puck on a breakaway and had a one on one with Jokerit goalie Leland Irving and hit his shot right at him, the puck came back out for Alexander Ruuttu to score on the rebound, 0-2!
Ilves went into the second period with great confidence and it took just 20 seconds on the powerplay for us to make it 0-3, Mikke Levo‘s shot from the blue line sneaking in slowly under Irving who made a real mistake with a routine shot, veteran Martti Järventie getting an assist on the goal as well.
Just before the end of the period Michael Keränen got a 5+20 penalty for something I didn’t see as being “that bad” but it was judged to be a major penalty and off he went. In the third period Roberts Jekimovs saw a 2+10 penalty as well.
We’ve seen already this season with our 1-3 away lead to JYP that ended in a 4-3 loss, that we can’t get cocky with a lead, we held it very well this time, and at 52:15 Kai Kantola confirmed 3 points when he scored on a Jani Rita powerplay, Järventie back in with another assist point, the former HIFK man enjoying the night.
As massive as a result as this was, it takes us back up to 2nd in the league, amazing as throughout the years of me doing this we’ve mainly been at the bottom of the league, I’m so glad to see things getting back to winning ways.
Kolppanen is getting a great amount of praise this month, being September’s player of the month, but with 11+9+12=32 Juha Järvenpää deserves a massive congratulations for his display in yesterday’s game.
Friday is our next game and it’s against our friends HIFK, we’ve got close ties with them which I’m very happy about, two of the country’s most traditional and successful teams with a great deal of respect for each other, it was hugely respectful the card display IFK fans did when they last came to Hakametsä, it’s not been forgotten and now that HIFK found themselves in a bad spot in the league, but with a win vs Blues things are getting better there too after a bad start to the season as well as pre-season.
En gång IFK, Alltid IFK.
Another win and importantly, a shut-out too, it is important to keep this winning momentum going, we’ve got Kärpät at home on Saturday. After two away wins against good teams Ilves deserve to be in the top 6, we’ve much more points at this stage in the season as we had last time, a home win tomorrow and this will be the best start to a season I’ve ever seen as a fan.
The blues game only had one goal in it and it was the first game of the season I was able to watch live, so happy to see Kolppanen in such great form, especially in the third period, if it was any other goalie then Blues would have won the game, Kolppanen on the 5 on 3 Blues powerplay was NHL class with some of those saves.
Asplund got the only goal, as good as our penalty killing was I though our powerplay was pretty average, another goal in this game would have made it much more comfortable, we also missed a fairly simple empty net opportunity, I’m very very happy with the way we are now playing and it’s thanks to the new coach and owner that we’ve got a different feel to us, nobody expects us to once again be fighting for 13th place, I’m confident we will be playing Play-off hockey this season.
In the 5+ years I’ve supported Ilves we’ve only made the play-offs twice and lost in the first round to Pelicans and in the other year we got passed HPK before then losing to JYP, of course I’d love to see us win it but a semi-final spot would be a great and achievable target and would bring some pride back to the club after the last few years where we have been seen as an easy 3 points by some teams.
The most amazing game of hockey in years
A truly perfect game that saw us make the best comeback I’ve ever seen in sport, the game in Kuopio was going to be difficult despite the fact that KalPa were bottom of the league, they are still a top side. They went 1-0 in front after just three minutes, Artturi Lehkonen was allowed all the space he needed to skate unchallenged right up to the goal and score passed Järvenpää.
Also in the first half Jasse Ikonen scored KalPa’s second goal, Kasperi Kapanen skating rings around everyone assisted Ikonen’s goal, poor defending again cost Ilves. At the half way stage of the 2nd period KalPa went on the powerplay and scored an easy goal, right through Järvenpää’s legs, bad goal-tending looked like it would have cost us the match, 3-0 down and not looking likely to get back into the game.
Minute later Daniel Corso got a 20 minute penalty which just made things worse, except, it didn’t.. 70 seconds after he left the ice Michael Keränen took control of the puck skated around the back of the KalPa net then hit a pass to Turo Asplund who put it nicely in the far corner of the goal, Ilves possibly looked like getting back into the game.
1 minute and 1 second later, Simon Gysbers was off one on one with Pekka Tuokkola and his back handed shot was saved, but Jussi Pesonen rushed in for the rebound and scored, it went to the video referee and the review confirmed the goal was good, 3-2 at the end of the second!
There were no goals but plenty of attempts, until 59:59 Ilves win a penalty, Ville Korhonen steps up to take it with one second left, takes the puck out to the right skates in to the left of goal, waits for the keeper to make a move and lifts it over his right leg and in, coolest man in the building sends it to over-time with one second left!!
It goes to a shoot-out after 5mins overtime and after 2 KalPa misses and 2 Ilves misses it went to sudden death, KalPa score… then it goes to the video ref who says otherwise, so it stays at 0-0 in the shootout and up steps Ville Korhonen again to win it, takes his time, moves out to the left and cuts back in and hits the exact same shot as he did in his last shootout attempt, Ilves take 2 points back to Tampere and we stay in the top section of SM-Liiga!
What a game, next up for us is a trip to Espoo to take on the Blues on Wednesday evening.
WE ARE 2ND IN THE LEAGUE!!
What a great time to get 3 points, after Tuesday’s heartbreaker vs JYP we took the three points at home to Lukko. 5000 people were in attendance to see the game and we got on the scoreboard first after 12 minutes, it was an Ilves powerplay goal coming from our top line, Ruuttu passing along to Sami Sandell at the blue line who fires the puck hard at Setänen in the Lukko goal, the keeper was going to save the shot but out came the stick of Daniel Corso who chipped it up in the air and it went perfectly over the head of Setänen and into the empty net behind him, great start 1-0!
The second period saw 3 penalties for each team and Ilves playing 3 on 5 hockey for a while, but no goals, the closest we came was a great blind pass from behind Lukko’s net by Alexander Ruuttu and Corso coming so close to getting a second goal, but Oskari Setänen read the play well and it stayed 0-0 at 40 minutes.
6 minutes into the third period we doubled our lead, it was Korhonen and Kangasniemi skating towards 4 Lukko players, Kangasniemi fired a shot in hard trying to get it between the goalies legs, but Setänen covered the puck, or so he thought anyway, the puck rolled out from under him and Ville Korhonen dived with his stick out to push it over the line, fearless attacking from the ever present Ilves attacker.
Then, we got a sense of Deja Vu, leading by two goals with 12 minutes to play, so what happens? The opposition score, it was a very well taken goal coming off a Kai Kantola penalty, Nummelin with a hard, fast pass to Jerry Ahtola a meter out from the goal who smashes it in, 2-1.
We were all fearing throwing away another certain victory when things went from bad to worse, firstly Jussi Pesonen going into the penalty box with 8 minutes remaining, then Konsta Mäkinen joining him giving Lukko a 5 on 3 powerplay and shortly after that, Sami Sandell took to the penalty box! We owe the three points to the courageous goal-tending of one Ville Kolppanen, he bailed us out a few times towards the end of last season and did so again here, great show!
Kolppanen let in one goal from 39 shots, truly a performance to be proud of!
Next up, we travel to Kuopio to take on the stuttering KalPa.
2nd in the liiga… Kiitos Ilves!
Ughhh what a heartbreaking game!
JYP are without doubt one of the best teams over the last 5 or 6 years in Finland, going away to play them has never been easy, as we found out in our last play-off series when we played them in the quarter finals. I would have been happy (pre-match) to take even a point from this match.
We got the dream start, one minute into the game, Konsta Mäkinen playing the puck along the line to Simon Gysbers who slapped a shot off goal but came off the stick of Välimaa and rebounded off the boards and back to Tommi Välimaa who scored at the near post 1-0!
Ilves took three penalties in the first half, at one point JYP had a 5 on 3 advantage, but Max Wärn finally got the goal to tie things up, Louhivaara recieving the puck and waiting for Kolppanen to come towards him before passing it to Wärn at the back post, unmarked for an easy tap in… then came the most annoying maalitorvi in the league ääääöööuuuhhh.
The second period didn’t create much in the way of talking points but the third was where everything happened, 41:18 Sami Sandell scored a fairly easy goal, totally unmarked in front of the net as Corso made the assist. Then 8 minutes later on the counter attack Juuso Rajala provided a beautiful assist on to Kai Kantola who sent the keeper the wrong way and scored what I thought must surely be the winning goal… it’s best to stop reading here and turn off the computer.
JYP had a 4 on 3 powerplay just minutes after being 1-3 down, they didn’t panic and played some nice triangle passing around the Ilves defence, eventually Ramzi Abid took a shot and it was straight into the goal, their second of the night, both with the man advantage. 56:39 and the game was tied, fairly scrappy attack saw the puck drop to Markus Nenonen who hit it hard and fast, top corner, nothing Kolppanen could do, Ilves were rocked by this come back, and what happened with less than 2 minutes to go was truly gutting, Wärn hit a pass from the blue line that went through a couple of bodies, the defence lost sight of the puck and Miika Lahti was at the back post for an easy game winning goal, heartbreak for the team that were 1-3 up with 7 minutes and 14 seconds to go.
We’ve got to pick ourselves up, Lukko come to Hakametsä on Thursday.
We didn’t play bad at all and definitely deserved at least a point from the JYP game, Kolppanen went 16+6+15=37 so unlucky to have lost.
The first official home game of the season opened against HPK once again, coming off the back of our opener against Tappara we were hoping to add to our three points that had us up to fourth in the table after the first round of fixtures.
It was 4:55 before HPK took the lead, Corso and Jere Sallinen were both in the penalty box at the time so there was a lot of space for some 4v4 hockey, HPK passed the puck around our defence well and we lost track of it as Robert Leino was unmarked and scored before Juha Järvenpää could realise what was happening, 1-0
HPK were all over us in the first period and Ilves used their time-out, probably a wise decision as it broke up the momentum and we were able to see out the first period without conceding any more.
HPK came out strong in the second and it’s amazing that they weren’t able to score, even having the puck roll along the top of the crossbar at one point. Ilves were able to finally get into the game and tie things up, coming on a powerplay, Ilves setting up from the point firing in shots from the blue line, Sandell and Ruuttu both trying to squeeze the puck in passed Saros but it came out to the very impressive Daniel Corso for an easy finish, 1-1!
There were no further goals or major incidents in the third so it went to jatkoaika and it only took 31 seconds before Koivisto passed it across to Juha Kiilholma for the winning goal, Ilves didn’t look ready for it and HPK took full advantage in front of their away fans who made the relatively short journey on the Saturday to see their team pick up their first win.
Ilves go away with just a point, but if someone offered me 4 points from these 2 games last week, I’d have been delighted with it. Next up for us is a trip to play JYP on Tuesday, it’s not getting any easier is it?