Two bleak spells followed by a series of goals the fans have been waiting for. The Lions beat Hungary in the third period – after that at least Capo Kaku admitted it was a good thing he managed to score.
It looked like he could be the ultimate heartbreaker for a home tournament. Two periods later, gold favorites Finland only held a 2-1 lead against a retreating Hungary. And the Hungarians certainly showed their danger in the second period.
But it was a completely different Lions who came out of the starting positions in the third period. Within five minutes, Finland had put the puck in four times and eventually won 7-1 after newcomer Waltteri Merelä also scored.
What really happened in the locker room?
– Well, we just talked about a little patience. We needed to remind ourselves of that. We have to play as a team, and we have to start by making sure that the defensive game works. Then we went out and played as a team, Mikko Rantanen told Yle Sporten afterwards.
– No one made such a rousing speech, but several voices said important things. We were all well aware of what was at stake and how bad we had been before, Kabu Kaku says in turn.
– I can’t say that I raised my voice too much, but said that we need to stop playing as individual athletes and work as a team, says the coach.
Yalonen suspected that the stars were known by the press
Mikko Rantanen sometimes thought about doing what he wanted on the ice. He feinted past opponents left and right and had a wonderful composure in his puck play.
His way of skating is something that very few others in the world can match, says Yalonen.
Feet move beautifully when he goes. And it was great how he found other players with his passes, Kakko compares.
Capo Kaku finally managed to break his personal clean sheet in the match and also got past Kaspre Kapanen – the new winger from the second string in place of Joel Armia – who also scored his first goal of the tournament.
– Perhaps it was important for Capu to succeed, Yalonen believes, and places the responsibility for “the club toughening up a bit” on both the Finnish media and the public:
He definitely felt the pressure. However, he came here from the NHL and is expected to deliver. Kasperi has been good all along. He plays relaxed and with a lot of confidence.
“I definitely felt relieved.”
Mikko Rantanen scored three goals in the game and at the end of the last period seemed to be trying hard to get a puck as he took every shot he outnumbered.
– But the goalkeeper pulled the straw the longest this time, he said and smiled slightly.
– It was important for us to succeed on a broad front. This gives us confidence as a team because individuals also play more bravely, Rantanen continues.
How many pucks did you have to actually get at the end when you hit four shots on goal in about a minute?
– Well, it wasn’t meant to happen that way, it just so happened that I was the one who had the chance to be photographed a few times. The most important thing for me is that we won, politely answers media professional Rantanen.
Kakko admits, however, that it was really nice to finally get the disc.
Of course I was relieved. It’s especially good that we were able to get a puck when he was fifth in power play, Kakko says, and he obviously seems relieved.
None of us in the series were happy with her appearance against France. We were now able to keep the puck in the attacking area for long periods of time and create many chances. “Kasso” (Kabanen) came in as a winger later and with him the game went well, we’ll see how we play tomorrow, he continued.
Jalonen also didn’t touch on what the series against Austria might look like — “I don’t have much to say about that match at all,” were his exact words — but at least he agreed to comment on his Ph.D.
Before the match against Austria, Jalonen will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Jyväskylä and will go to campus to receive the title.
– Honestly, I didn’t want to go, we investigated whether it was possible to skip, but it was clearly not. I love it out here with the guys and that’s where I want to be. But we also have free time, so it won’t be a problem, he says.