Two of Liiga’s top three teams, Ilves and KalPa, faced off in Kuopio on Saturday. The game was eventful and fast-paced, but in the end Ilves secured the victory with the score of 2–3. Barrett Hayton celebrated his Ilves debut by assisting in Matias Maccelli’s game-winning goal. Next up is a short break from Liiga games because of the national team’s playing schedule. Lukko, who leads the league, and Ilves have even point totals in the standings.
Hayton’s debut in the Ilves jersey
The match begun like a match between top teams should. Both teams skated well and moved the play from end to end, and both teams’ goalies also got to working. Two minor penalties were called for both teams, and so playing the special teams slowed down the game a little. Neither team was able to capitalize on the powerplay. The period’s last penalty was given to a frustrated Kalle Maalahti, whose behavior in the situation earned him a 10-minute misconduct as well.
Barrett Hayton debuted in Ilves’ ranks in this game. The penalty-ridden first period affected his performance, too, but the promising Canadian player could still give us a sneak peek of his dazzling abilities. Hayton made a few impressive dekes during 5–on–5 shifts and played well together with his line mates Matias Maccelli and Roby Järventie.
Arttu Ruotsalainen devised Ilves’ best scoring chance of the period. KalPa goalie Eero Kilpeläinen, who saved 9 shots in total in the period, was barely able to block his shot. Aleksi Klemetti and Kai Kantola had KalPa’s best scoring chances. They both got face-to-face with Lukas Dostal, but as the Czech goalie was on a roll, neither could get past him. The score was an even 0–0 heading into the next period.
Suomi’s first of the season
Ilves took the reins during the first half of the second period. Hayton’s line especially put the pressure on the opponent, and Roby Järventie had a few good chances on the goal. KalPa’s experienced goalie Kilpeläinen was alert and let no pucks in. KalPa created counterattacks and therefore racked up scoring chances, the best of which was by Aleksi Klemetti. However, Jarkko Parikka, who has also been chosen for the national team who will play in the Karjala tournament, defended excellently and ruined Klemetti’s plan.
The first goal was marked on the scoresheet after the game’s sixth penalty was called. Eemeli Suomi received a hooking penalty at 29:43, and a minute later KalPa’s gold-helmet-wearing Eetu Luostarinen winded up a fiery shot that went past Dostal. During the next shift KalPa immediately had two fantastic chances right in front of the goal, but Dostal blocked both Benjamin Korhonen’s and Juuso Könönen’s attempts.
The goal seemed to energize the home team, but Ilves took a page from KalPa’s playbook and countered. Teemu Lepaus and Miro Nalli played the puck to Antti Saarela, and the forward scored with a sharp wrist shot to the upper corner at 33:27. A minute after the equalizer, Ilves got to play on the powerplay because KalPa’s Otto Leskinen got a slashing penalty. The penalty ended just before Eemeli Suomi sent the puck to the net after Ville Meskanen’s shot attempt. The 1–2 goal was the first goal of the season for the Ilves captain, who has also amassed 10 assists so far in the season.
Maccelli’s decider from Hayton’s assist
Jesper Mattila, a former Ilves player who transferred to KalPa from Boston College for the season, took an interference penalty close to the end of the second period, and so Ilves started the third on the powerplay. Barrett Hayton played great on the powerplay and showcased his brilliant dekes and passes, but his final shot attempt stopped into Kilpeläinen’s glove.
Ilves had to adjust their game play in the third. Santeri Hatakka had been in the penalty box since the second period because of a 10-minute misconduct, and Miro Nalli, who has been having a great season so far, was injured in a collision with Mattila and couldn’t return to play in the third.
After Ilves’ powerplay ended, KalPa started to dominate the game and managed to create a few great chances. The ex-Ilves players were behind the best ones. First, Kai Kantola tried to do his magic again, but was stopped by Lukas Dostal’s pad out of nowhere. Next up was Jesper Mattila’s attempt. Dostal was late for it but was saved as the puck that the defenseman raised from a tight angle hit the post.
Although the Kuopio team took command in the third period, Ilves could defend well and Dostal handled the rest. During the game’s final minutes, Roby Järventie intercepted a KalPa attack in the center ice and played the puck to Barrett Hayton. Hayton passed to Matias Maccelli who accompanied him on the attack. Maccelli’s wrist shot flew past Kilpeläinen at 56:35.
At 59:09 Maccelli took a penalty, Ilves’ sixth of the game, and nine seconds before final buzzer, KalPa’s Otto Leskinen’s goal reduced Ilves’ lead to one. But the goal was a small consolation to the home team as Ilves won their third game of the week, 2–3.
The next home game is against KooKoo on Wednesday, November 18th. Welcome to Hakametsä arena!