On Friday night Ilves faced Vaasan Sport in Hakametsä and although there was hope until the second period, eventually the opponents took home the win 4-7.
Slow start for Ilves
At the beginning of the game Sport appeared much more energetic than the hosts and almost immediately launched the first attack. However, Eetu Mäkiniemi managed to block the shot and shortly after, also Ilves had a chance to score, but it was blocked as well. The first goal of the evening was scored already in 5:23 by Juho Tommila from the opposing team, who hit the puck from the middle of the field into Ilves’ net.
Eager to make up the deficit, Ilves tried a new attack, but without success. The resulting scramble ended with the opponents being allowed to play two minutes in numerical superiority. Despite dicey situations, Ilves’ defense kept its concentration and withstood Sport’s pressure. Even in the shorthanded situation, Ilves managed to steer the puck in front of the opponent’s goal and a moment later, one player from Sport was sent to the penalty box too, which meant that the game was now played 4-on-4. In this situation, the hoped-for equalizer finally came through Kalle Maalahti, who tied the score in 12:38.
Yet, the joy lasted only briefly, until Sport’s Victor Westermarck scored the second goal for the visitor’s team in 13:21. After another violation, Ilves had to stay outnumbered for another two minutes, which gave the opponents an optimal chance to score another goal. Despite great confusion in front of Ilves’ goal, Mäkiniemi initially kept the overview and stopped the puck in the last moment. However, right after the new face-off Sport’s Roope Talaja broke through Ilves’ defense and scored 1-3 for Sport in 15:08. Due to this situation, the last minutes of the first period became hectic, but another goal did not come. The first period of the match thus ended with a score of 1-3.
Ilves gives reason for hope
After the break, Ilves entered the ice with much more determination than before and did not let the puck be taken away so easily. There was no shortage of opportunities, but the opponents left no gaps in their defense. Once back in possession of the puck, Juho Liuksiala didn’t hesitate long and scored the fourth goal for Sport in 23:52.
Fired up by their apparent superiority, the opposing team kept up their pressure and made it difficult for Ilves to catch up on the score. After a few futile attempts, Matias Maccelli finally managed to score 2-4 in 27:40, showing that the game was still far from decided. Shortly after, the 3-4 came from Roby Järventie after a pass from Maccelli in 34:02 while the opponents were outnumbered. With this score the game went into the second break.
Ilves cannot stand the pace
The last period seemed to become the most exciting period of this match and Ilves’ attacking spirit was promising at first. Unfortunately, this attacking spirit led to Ilves being outnumbered after an infringement. The remaining players confidently fended off the opponents’ attacks until the team was back to full strength. From then on, the game continued to be relatively even in terms of puck possession and attacks. Eventually, Teemu Väyrynen had a free run in the final 10 minutes, but his shot was blocked by Sport’s goalie. Instead, Sport’s Aaro Vidgren scored the fifth goal in 52:44, which now put Ilves in severe trouble. The pressure on the home team was only increased when Sport was numerical superior for two minutes, during which Mika Partanen hit the puck into Ilves’ net in 54:54, changing the score to 3-6.
Ilves’ last attempts to score again were in vain and on top of that, the team had to play shorthanded until the last minute. Finally, Eemeli Suomi managed to score another goal, but it was too late to win the game. Substituting Mäkiniemi for a fifth attacker only resulted in another shot from Sport landing straight in the net. In the end, the winner of the evening was clear and Ilves had to face a 4-7 defeat.