Ilves visited HIFK in Helsinki on Saturday and took the points from under the home team’s nose with a 1–3 win. Ilves’ goals were scored by Antti Saarela, Aleksi Elorinne, and Ondrej Roman. The best players of the game were the goalies, and in their battle the king of the rink Lukas Dostal emerged victorious with 33 saves.

An eventful but even opening period

The teams played with good intensity in the beginning of the match, and both teams had scoring chances. Eemeli Suomi created a chance for Santeri Hatakka, but HIFK goalie Frans Tuohimaa denied. At the other end Lukas Dostal blocked a few shots from HIFK. Ilves’ start was great as Miro Nalli’s good play had Samuli Vainionpää and Antti Saarela open for a 2-on-1 attack, which Saarela finished with a precise shot into the goal. So Ilves took a 0–1 lead at 3:04.

Around the six-minute mark the anticipation for a home team goal hung heavily in the air. Anton Lundell got close twice, but Dostal’s amazing saves saved Ilves twice. Soon after that Lundell was knocked down and HIFK pressured on for over a minute during the delayed penalty call. Ilves held on and at 7:05 Arttu Ruotsalainen was sent to the penalty box. It didn’t take long for HIFK’s power play to succeed: Alex Broadhurst’s fast entry to the offensive zone, pass to Mikko Kousa, and Kousa’s undefeatable shot to the upper corner combined for a 1–1 equalizer at 7:26.

The first period was very even from then on with neither team being able to finish their plays. Around the thirteen-minute mark Antti Saarela got close to the net, but Tuohimaa blocked his sharp shot with his shoulder. Ilves’ second line took away the puck from HIFK and created a spectacular opportunity for Joose Antonen to seize, but he couldn’t get past Tuohimaa. At the other end Dostal blocked a shot from Tobias Winberg.

The scoring chances in the first period were plenty. The next chance presented itself to Jarkko Parikka, who ended up face-to-face with the goalie after a pass from Juuso Välimäki, but Tuohimaa’s pads stopped the shot. Ilves was very strong in the last ten minutes, and Lassi Thomson’s vigorous shot ensured a partial breakaway for Roby Järventie, but he was denied by Tuohimaa.

Ilves dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t capitalize, and so the score remained 1–1 after the first period. Dostal saved 11 shots, Tuohimaa saved 9.

Loads of penalties for Ilves in the second period

In the opening minutes Frans Tuohimaa’s mishap almost cost him a goal: his pass went straight to Eemeli Suomi, who passed to Arttu Ruotsalainen, but he was interfered and in a difficult position, so his shot attempt fell through. At his end of the rink, Dostal denied Alex Broadhurst’s difficult shot from a low angle with his pad. HIFK got to play on the power play again at 23:16 when Samuli Vainionpää pushed Anton Lundell over. HIFK’s power play was dangerous, but Ilves survived, led by Dostal.

HIFK was energized after the power play and seemed to take the reins in the match. At 28:24 Aleksi Elorinne’s stick hit Juho Keränen in the face in a manner that was worthy of a double minor penalty. Keränen left for the locker room. During the first minute of the penalty, Samuli Vainionpää counterattacked against HIFK, but the attempt fell through. Ilves killed the first two minutes of the penalty easily, but HIFK continued to pressure them. Ilves defended unselfishly and survived the whole four minutes in the end.

Ilves got the hang of the game after the penalty kills, but their lengthy attack ended when Roby Järventie took a clear tripping penalty against Johan Motin at 34:11. However, Ilves performed admirably on the penalty kill, and when Joona Ikonen protected the puck well against the HIFK players, it was only a matter of time when he would get the home team to take a penalty. Eero Teräväinen hooked Ikonen and the home team received a penalty for the first time at 36:07. Ilves’ first power play wasn’t productive, and so the score remained the same going into the third.

Largely due to the power plays, the goalies’ saves were 9 for Dostal and 3 for Tuohimaa in the second period.

Ilves secures the victory in the third period

Home team HIFK put the pressure on Ilves early on, and Ilves strongly defended the center ice. The first top scoring chance came to Ilves, when Joona Ikonen and Eemeli Suomi passed to Arttu Ruotsalainen. His shot unfortunately flew past the unguarded upper corner. HIFK’s top level acquisition Emil Bemström got to try for a goal twice on partial breakaways, but Dostal denied both.

Ilves regained their lead at 46:29. Matias Maccelli and Roby Järventie played the puck at the boards when Aleksi Elorinne skated to them and shot a gorgeous one-timer. Ilves took the lead, 1–2. The game went from one end to the other, but as the players got more tired, the quick pace decreased a little.

Lukas Dostal continued his great performance between the pipes. He denied an advancing Juho Keränen after Ilves’ efforts in the offensive zone turned into a HIFK counterattack. Then it was HIFK’s turn to play in the offensive zone only to watch Ilves steal the puck and Samuli Vainionpää get mere centimeters away from deflecting the puck into the net. HIFK pressured, but Ilves defended so well that they didn’t get more scoring chances.

When there were only five minutes left, the game started to turn scrappy and the suspense grew. HIFK was playing against the clock, but the puck was kept mainly in the neutral ice. Tuohimaa was pulled from the net 1:23 before the final whistle. HIFK didn’t even get a chance, and Ilves struck the final nail into HIFK’s coffin as Ondrej Roman scored an empty net goal, which was also his first in Liiga, at 59:32 after an excellent pass from Joona Ikonen.

And so Ilves took home three points with the help of strong defense and the 33 saves made by Lukas Dostal.

Ilves’ next home game is against Jukurit at Hakametsä this Friday! The game starts at 6:30 PM as usual!

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