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Ilves announced eight contract extensions

Ilves Hockey Oy

Ilves has signed contract extensions with forward Panu Mieho, defensemen Jarkko Parikka, Les Lancaster, Leo Lööf and Santeri Airola, goaltender Vadim Žerenko and coaches Jarkko Näppilä and Markus Korhonen.

Watch the contract release videos: launch.ilves.com

Forward Panu Mieho – Contract extension 2022–2024

Ilves and forward Panu Mieho, 26, have agreed on a two-year contract extension. Helsinki-born Mieho, who is playing his fourth season with Ilves and third as the team’s alternate captain, has worn the Ilves jersey in 160 regular season games and scored 68 points (27 goals, 41 assists). This season he has scored four goals and added nine assists in 13 games. During his career Mieho has achieved a Liiga bronze medal with HIFK in 2017–2018 season.

– Panu Mieho has a very important and big role in our team – both inside and outside the rink. He is one of the team’s alternate captains and can play quality two-way game in any attacking role. His accountability towards the game and the team’s benefit has increased even more last seasons. Panu has a great personality and he has found a home at Ilves so we are extremely happy that he stays with us, says sport director Timo Koskela.

Defenseman Jarkko Parikka – Contract extension 2022–2025 (option to play one season abroad)

Jarkko Parikka, 24, has signed a three-year contract extension that includes both player and club options. Parikka will play for Ilves in 2022–2023 season and has an option to move to a foreign league for either 2023-2024 or 2024-2025 season. The last season of the contract also includes Ilves’ option.

Parikka has scored eight goals and added six assists in 27 games this season and has already broken his single-season goal scoring record. He has also earned a call-up to the Finnish national team for the fourth year in a row.

Ilves is the only club Parikka has represented during his Liiga career that started in 2015–2016 season. The defenseman has played 300 Liiga regular season games and scored 81 points (26 goals, 55 assists). In his first season at Ilves Parikka won the Finnish U20 championship.

– Jarkko Parikka is a star level defenseman in the Liiga. As a versatile player and an excellent skater he can handle lots of responsibility and reliably battle against the opponents best players. The contract extension of a national team level player demonstrates the development Ilves has achieved and the ambition the club has to keep rising to the next level, tells Koskela.

– Jarkko is one the pillars our team has been built upon over a longer time already. As a 24-year-old player he is still going towards his best years. We are really happy that, despite his many options, he chose Ilves and that we could agree on a contract extension model that suits both parties well.

Defenseman Les Lancaster – Contract extension 2022–2023

American defenseman Les Lancaster, 26, has signed a one-year contract extension. Since joining Ilves in the summer, the defenseman has scored three goals and added 13 assists in 25 games. At times Lancaster has led Ilves in points and currently ranks as the joint fifth highest scoring defenseman in the league this season.

– Les Lancaster has been just as good as we expected. He is an excellent skater and technically skillful, understands the game well and still learns more every day. Les is a brilliant character and unique defenseman, who dares, can and wants to finish games on the attacking front but understands his defensive responsibilities as well. It’s great that we are able keep such a quality defenseman in our team next season as well, says Koskela.

Defenseman Leo Lööf – Contract extension 2022–2023

Ilves and 19-year-old Swedish defenseman Leo Lööf have agreed on a one-year contract extension. Lööf has scored six points (three goals, three assists) in 25 games in his first season in the Liiga. His plus-minus rating +14 is the best among Ilves players and fourth best in the league

As a regular member of the Swedish junior national teams Lööf will also represent his country at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship. The defenseman was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the third round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

– Leo Lööf has regularly performed well and at times he has been absolutely dazzling considering his age. He can play on a strong level both with or without the puck. Leo still needs more strength, but he has all the tools play in the NHL some day. He is a really versatile player who has courage to get involved in all aspects of the game. He has had an excellent start to the season, and we are very happy that he wants to stay at Ilves, says Koskela.

Defenseman Santeri Airola – Contract extension 2022–2023 + one-year option

Santeri Airola’s, 21, contract included a club option for next season, but the two sides negotiated a new one-year contract extension with an option for another year. The defenseman is playing his second season with Ilves, but his time in green and yellow has been hampered by injuries. Over these two seasons Airola has played only 19 Liiga games and four Mestis games.

Airola made several appearences in the Finnish U20 national team during 2018–2020 season. The defenseman was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the seventh round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

– Santeri Airola one of the most gifted defensemen at Ilves in the previous seasons, but unfortunately he has suffered many injuries. He is a very dynamic player, strong skater and possesses an excellent shot. In Santeri’s case it’s all about developing his physique and avoiding injuries. We want to support his recovery and really look forward to seeing him on the ice in full strenght and develop towards his full potential, comments Koskela.

Goaltender Vadim Žerenko – Contract extension 2022–2023

Russian goaltender Vadim Žerenko, 20, has signed a one-year contract extension. Žerenko has won 10 out of his 17 games played for Ilves on his first season at men’s top league level. His save percentage is 90,13.

– Vadim Žerenko has entered the Liiga in a magnificent way and has been able give wins to our team. He has development has taken huge steps this season and he has the potential to be a NHL goalia some in the future. Vadim is a big, athletic and versatile goaltender who competes hard and wants to develop every day. We are very happy that such a talented goalie stays at Ilves, tells Koskela.

Coach Jarkko Näppilä

Jarkko Näppilä (Master of Science (Sport and Health Sciences)), 33, who joined Ilves’ first team coaching staff in the summer, continues in his current role as a coordinator of individuals all-round development.

– Jarkko Näppilä’s contribution to our coaching staff has been immense. His versatile know-how, well-argued opinions and player background enable him to guide individuals both on and off the ice and help our other coaches in many different tasks. Many of our young players have developed a lot under Jarkko’s coaching and we are really pleased with the work he has done, comments Koskela.

Goaltending coach Markus Korhonen

Goaltending coach Markus Korhonen, 46, continues in his role next season. Korhonen has operated in the role since 2010–2011 season.

– Markus Korhonen is a professional who masters the technical side of goaltending coaching, but also understands and knows how to coach the reading of the game and taking part in the game, which are important qualities to goalies as well. He has a tremendous skill to read goalies’ mental and physical states and analyze and develop their actions. ”Karhu” has done a great job for years and it’s great that he still continues in our organization, says Koskela.

Contract situation for the 2022–2023 season

Goaltenders (1)

Vadim Žerenko 2023

Defensemen (7 + 1 option)

Karri Aho 2022+1, Santeri Airola 2023+1, Otto Heinonen 2024, Veeti Hietaniemi 2024+1, Les Lancaster 2023, Leo Lööf 2023, Jarkko Parikka 2025, Tuomas Salmela 2024

Forwards (11)

Nikolai Hakala 2023+1, Joona Ikonen 2024, Joona Korhonen 2023+1, Jakub Kos 2023+1, Panu Mieho 2024, Matias Mäntykivi 2023, Miro Nalli 2023, Jani Nyman 2023+1, Joonas Oden 2023, Eetu Päkkilä 2024, Santeri Virtanen 2023

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