Ilves got the result they wanted as they won Sport from Vaasa 6-1. The home team was effective and 11 different players collected at least a point on Friday evening. Ville Meskanen scored twice, and Lukas Dostal made 25 saves.
An effective first period
Ever since the beginning of the match, it was Ilves who controlled the game despite the fact it was Sport who, once again, opened the scoring. At 3:33 Sebastian Ståhlberg delivered the puck towards the net from the blue line and the puck surprisingly went through multiple players and eventually passed Lukas Dostal, who never saw it coming.
The home crowd quickly got what they were looking for as only 64 seconds later Joose Antonen was alone against Sport’s goalie Niko Hovinen. Forward got the loose puck that deflected from Panu Mieho’s equipment after Sport’s poor turnover and Antonen shot an accurate wrister past Hovinen’s blocker. After the goal Ilves kept controlling the puck. During the next shift Juuso Välimäki showed his individual skills as he nearly skated through Sport’s defense. Juho Tommila had no chance but to trip Välimäki so Ilves’ red hot powerplay got their first chance of the game.
The powerplay provided second goal for Ilves at 6:07. Ville Meskanen got a great scoring chance and Hovinen was powerless in front of Meskanen’s sharp snapshot. At the same time Sport took a timeout in order to slow down the home team.
After the first 10 minutes, the game slowed down a notch. At 9:55 Sport had a powerplay chance of their own as Kalle Maalahti got a minor for interference. Ilves’ penalty kill was on point, though. Nearing the end of the first period, Ilves showed a great example of its forechecking capabilities when Matias Maccelli got a loose puck in Sport’s defensive end. Maccelli passed the puck to Roby Järventie, who was right next to him ready to shoot a one-timer. Järventie’s slapshot passed Hovinen, which meant that Ilves led the game 3-1 after the first period.
Spectacular goals and nice passing combinations
Shortly after the first face-off of the second period, Ilves’ powerplay unit headed once again towards Sport’s end. No additional goal this time, though. After the powerplay opportunity Ilves had an extra long shift on the attacking zone but it didn’t provide the best scoring chances. The promising shift ended when Meskanen got a minor penalty at 26:31. Likewise, Sport’s powerplay was ended by a penalty of their own when Välimäki was tripped again. As a result, Ilves’ powerplay unit came back with clearer strategy and they passed the puck through Sport’s defense multiple times. After a great passing combination Meskanen scored his second of the night at 29:50. It was Eemeli Suomi who served a wide-open chance for Meskanen who had an easy job to put the puck into the net.
Only 22 seconds later Ilves’ fourth line got an odd-man rush and a textbook passing combination led to a tic-tac-goal. Teemu Lepaus shot the puck past Hovinen and the assists were collected by Miro Nalli and Antti Saarela. There was still one more spectacular goal yet to come. Just seconds before the buzzer Maccelli got a breakaway and the prospect of the Arizona Coyotes showed his stick handling skills and, at 39:45, the puck was behind Hovinen’s back for the sixth time. Dostal had just three saves in the second period.
A solid performance
When you have a five-goal heading into the third period, it is not surprising that the intensity decreases. Third period was simply waiting the match to end as Ilves made sure that Sport doesn’t get the control of the game. You could say that the winner was declared after two periods.
During the third period, both teams got few minor penalties and Sport got a couple decent scoring chances. Both Ilves’ defense and Dostal managed to keep the team from Vaasa far behind in the scoring sheet. Neither team scored in the third. The match itself proved that Ilves is a lethal team on powerplay and the penalty kill is solid as well. Also, Dostal showed great performance as he stopped 25 shots.