Siru Takala

On Saturday, Ilves and Ässät faced off for the first time this season. The visiting team Ässät capitalized effectively from their scoring chances and secured the three points with the score of 3–5. Ilves’ goals were scored by Joose Antonen, Joona Ikonen, and Arttu Ruotsalainen.

Difficult first period for Ilves

The team from Pori had their head in the game in the opening period and succeeded in creating a couple early scoring chances. The first goal, however, wasn’t scored until the halfway mark. Ässät’s Swedish defenseman Andreas Borgman managed to get the puck past Ilves goalie Eetu Mäkiniemi on the powerplay. Ilves evened the score a little over a minute later when Ondrej Roman’s superb pass found Joose Antonen in front of the goal where he successfully shot the puck past Ässät goalie Linus Söderström.

A minute later Ässät scored again: Sebastian Wännström succeeded in scoring on Mäkiniemi’s blocker side from a cross-ice pass. After the 1–2 goal, Ilves received two penalties in quick succession which didn’t sit right with the home crowd in Hakametsä arena. Olli Vainio, a former Ilves player, increased Ässät’s lead to 1–3 on the two-man advantage powerplay before the break.

Penalties disturb the game

Ilves players sat in the penalty box in the first period, and it was Ässät’s turn to do the same in the second. First Kasper Kotkansalo had to leave for the box for two minutes and just a moment after his penalty ended, Miro Mäkinen received a hooking penalty. Ilves created their best scoring chance during the time between these penalties as Ondrej Roman found himself in a good position to shoot, but he hit the post and the puck flew into the netting.

Jouka Juhola’s stick hit Matias Maccelli in the face halfway through the period, and so Ilves had a chance on the powerplay. This time it was a success: Arttu Ruotsalainen and Eemeli Suomi spread out the four Ässät defenders on the ice which enabled Joona Ikonen to one-time the puck into the net at 33:41.

The goal revitalized the Ilves team, and they created a few dangerous scoring chances. Ässät goalie Söderström could, however, stop both Joose Antonen and Roby Järventie’s low shot attempts. In the middle of Ilves pressuring Ässät in their own zone, the visiting team took a chance and attacked the Ilves zone. Andreas Borgman’s try from the blue line changed direction after hitting Ässät player Roni Hirvonen’s stick and ended up in the goal. Ässät was in the lead again by two goals. Before the end of the period, an Ilves player found himself in the penalty box again. Antti Saarela took a slashing penalty, and Ässät created a few chances, but Ilves persevered. Joona Ikonen lead one last charge on the Ässät net, but Ilves couldn’t score any additional goals. The score was 2–4 in favor of Ässät when the teams left for the intermission.

More pressure but no results

Since Matias Maccelli received a hooking penalty during the final minute of the second period, Ilves had to start the third on the penalty kill. Luckily, they killed the penalty easily and went on to control the game for almost the whole period. However, Ässät’s tight defense didn’t budge, and Ilves tried too hard with difficult passes or waited around too long before shooting.

Ässät could visit Ilves’ defensive zone only few times, but they were able to score once, as Nick Merkley put the puck past Mäkiniemi at 50:16. Ilves tried relentlessly for more during the last ten minutes, and managed to score once, thanks to Arttu Ruotsalainen on the powerplay. Scoring chances were plenty, but no more goals were scored, and so Ässät took home the points with the final score of 3–5.

Ilves’ next home game is on Friday. Ilves will face Tappara in the first local derby of the season. Welcome!

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