MONCTON – It is often said of professional athletes that the best in their discipline are distinguished by total control of their emotions.
As the saying “Never too high, never too low” suggests, there is no point in getting too carried away in sport, whether after success or failure.
Take a moment to analyze Oliver Kapanen’s body language in his post-game comments on Monday and Tuesday; you will see that there is nothing very different.
His first appearance in front of reporters, however, came minutes after one of Finland’s most embarrassing defeats in the last 15 World Youth Championships.
The other, just twenty hours later, came just after being named man of the match in a much more aggressive display by his country, a 5-2 win against Slovakia.
Surely the 19-year-old center isn’t the most talkative or outspoken player in the Canadiens’ prospect pool.
So beyond his veteran status since the last edition of the tournament in August, there must be a good explanation for Tomi Lamsa designating him to inherit the responsibility of sporting the ‘C’ of Scandinavian training.
Oliver is a tireless worker. His engine never stops. He may not be the leader who speaks the most, but his actions speak volumes,” Lamsa said during an interview with RDS.ca, following his club’s first win in the competition.
“He’s a really good guy. He treats everyone equally and leads by example at all times. You couldn’t ask for a better teammate to have around you,” confirmed Winnipeg Jets first-round pick Brad Lambert. last July.
Discreet like many of his teammates, Kapanen pivoted into a trio on Tuesday completed by Ville Koivunen on the left and Joakim Kemell on the right.
Kapanen and Kemell, in particular, combined their efforts to stun the Slovak defense, especially in a 3-0 dominated second period.
Creativity… but also a bit of everything
Most Habs fans will remember the deft maneuver Kapanen served a Slovak defender to gain speed behind the net and execute a classic tourniquet-style goal, making it 3-1.
However, it was near the cage of Finnish goalkeeper Aku Koskenvuo that the game began to unfold.
Despite his presence close to his defenses in support at the time of the zone exit, on the 27th he offered himself as an option on the wing in neutral territory.
Upon receiving the puck, the 6-foot-1 forward challenged his coverage at the offensive blue line, and it was through a good combination of balance on the skates and power that he was taunted, before succeeding in an action that is far from alien to the Kapanen family.
“It was improvised. But I think maybe it was a nod to my cousin. [Kasperi] “, he confided to us with a smile.
In 2016, in this same Junior World Cup, Kasperi Kapanen had threaded the golden goal in the same way, which allowed Finland to defeat Russia in the final after extra time.
A goal of such creativity shows that the 64th overall pick in the 2021 draft is slowly but surely gaining confidence in his ability to make big offensive plays against the best in his age group.
During the 2021-2022 season, it had been difficult for him to accumulate that crucial confidence, relegated to a secondary role with KalPa, in the SM-Liiga.
Nor had the fact of having evolved in four different squads helped him, both in SM-Liiga and in Mestis, the second division circuit.
Halfway through the season, a year later, we are more aware of the qualities identified by the former CH squad.
“Basically, Oliver has great game sense that helps him succeed. He wins his battles, he does very well in the matches, I hope the rest of his tournament will be like this, ”insisted the Finnish instructor.
After 31 games in this league, which continues to prioritize defensive play, Kapanen has scored seven goals and added six assists for a total of 13 points.
Something to remind people of his existence who might have stopped being excited about him, compared to other future CH players.
Laine had come to bat for him.
Kapanen was not a pick made by the staff headed by Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes.
However, Kapanen admits that the man who insisted on being selected after the second round ended is still employed by the Montreal organization.
« Hannu Laine [NDLR : qui épie les espoirs finlandais pour le club, en plus d’avoir vu son mandat s’agrandir à l’ensemble de l’Europe sous Hughes] He spoke to me a couple of times during the season. I knew he liked my style of play,” she recalled.
Was it the veteran scout of 22 seasons with the Canadiens who campaigned to get reclaimed?
“I think so,” he revealed.
Since Kasperi Kapanen’s netting heroic six years ago, the Finns have finished on the top step of the podium just one more time, in 2019.
In Edmonton five months ago, Kapanen and his compatriots had to put up with the bitter taste of money, dropping the flag on Junior Team Canada.
After unexpected misstep against Switzerland, Finland back on track?
Oliver Kapanen hopes so, and remembers that the round robin serves, among other things, to make adjustments.
“We have reemphasized some important details that we had missed. I think it was worth it, but basically, we already had all the motivation to recover, ”she illustrated.
Let’s see now if the Finns, always tough when the stakes are high, will be able to use Monday’s poor performance as an example of the danger that awaits them, if they dare to stray once more from the elaborate game plan. Lasma.
We will see Finland (1-1-0) in action on Thursday, in Group B, during a duel against Latvia (0-1-0), at the Center Avenir in Moncton.
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