Vesa Parviainen’s perspective: Momentum turned to Kärpi

Vesa Parviainen writes about the Ilves and Kärppi match series, writes Vesa Parviainen.

The young Joel Blomqvist has risen to the spring goalie sensation. Mikko Lieri / AOP

The rise of Ilves, who has won 16 historic championships, to become a realistic champion candidate is one of the great stories of the league season, along with the miracles of Jukuri.

During the last years of Ilves, who won the semi-finals (and medal) last 21 years ago, the traditional club garnered a lot of pent-up support, which has erupted with the new Nokia arena in handsome numbers.

The club’s playoff record of 9301 was set on Wednesday, which will most likely be broken as soon as the teams hit together for the fifth time in the playoff series.

The winner of the fight will get a semi-final place for the next Oulun match. Adding to the equation the fact that the Flies have risen to levels behind two losses in the series, it can be said that Ilves in particular is already facing a forced victory.

You can’t talk about an overhang in an extreme series in either direction, but the momentum has shifted to Kärpi.

Ilves won the regular season and the playoffs together, including the first six of the season, leading the semi-finals 2–0 and even Friday’s match in Oulu with the same numbers.

Now all this is gone – and everything is equal.

The matter was confirmed when Ville Leskinen’s hit 22 seconds before the final set buzzer moved the decision to the extra round, where Troy Bourke led Kärppie’s 3-2 win.

– Both teams had their own good moments and a place to solve before, but this was a formula like this again, when the extra time is decided by force, Ilves coach Jouko Myrrä stated: the match was already the third quality in the tube.

The only bigger difference was in the opening of the series, which Ilves took to the show style 5–1. The experienced Russian goalkeeper Stanislav Galimov played in the goal of the Flies, who unexpectedly got to start on Friday as well.

Surprisingly, 20-year-old Joel Blomqvist, who is a strong candidate for the Newcomer of the Year, fought excellently in low-profile second and third matches.

There is no way to change the winning goalkeeper in the playoffs – especially when the matches were not on consecutive days – and the trial of Kärppie’s coaching leadership was going to be expensive.

Blomqvist returned to the goal when Ilves hit two goals in the middle of the opening round in less than two minutes, and played brilliantly until the end.

In overtime, he stretched to the real thing gamesaverinewhen Joona Ikonen was able to shoot from the open position after a direct attack.

Muik Hockey, who has played 20 matches in the regular season, grew to be at the top of the goalkeeper statistics, and he is now in the playoffs in the same place.

The return of Petri Kontiola (pictured) and Henrik Haapala would be a big deal for Ilves. Tomi Natri / AOP

Will Petri Kontiola, who was injured on Wednesday, and Henrik Haapala, who experienced the same fate on Friday, be fit to play on Saturday?

This may be a matter of Ilves’ fate.

Haapala is known as a real playoff decider, and Kontiola’s value to the team is reflected above all in the superiority game and starts.

The flies dominated the starts on Friday in readings 41–21, which had a big impact on getting it – at least to some extent – in control of the game’s flow.

Ilves will not be able to afford a similar lower nail in the starting circle in the future.

Ilves has also remained silver for the time being. It has scored two goals with its 12 companies, while the corresponding numbers for the flies are eight and three.

In Friday’s game, only two coolers were whistled, both to Ilves, and Kärpät scored the goal each time.