Edmonton – Finns, they are lovely.
Some team outsiders like Seylanne, Jarko Ruto, or one of our favorites, Jane Ninima. Others, such as Auntie Nimi or the young Zari Kurri, you can interview for weeks and not do lengths in the sidebar.
From Sakos to Samis, from Tepos to Tucas, some have come to a lot of fans like Capo Caco or Patrick Line. Others – like Friday hero Joel Kiviranta – slammed into the side door.
Then, by the end of the game, they were sitting at the head of the table.
Kiwiranta, untrafted, unknown, 24-year-old farmhand, scored a hat-trick – including the overtime winner – as the Dallas Stars removed the Colorado avalanche in Game 7 Thriller. It was the first Game 7 hat-trick since Wayne Gretzky vs. Maple Leafs in 1993, and was just one of seven in NHL’s Game 7 history, with names such as Gretzky, Keon, McLeish and, yes, Esa Tickenen.
So, who is this Finn-Derrella?
“That’s a very good question,” Kiwiranta said in a post-game interview. “How much time do we have here? Where did I start? ”
Here’s a place to start: Kiwiranta Stars, who came from former Stars great Jerry Lehtinen, have entered the line – up because Andrew Cogliano – who has never lost a playoff game in his 13 – year, 1,000 – game career – could not go.
“No. Good thing I didn’t do it tonight, ”he texted from inside the bubble. “I thank heaven (played by Kiwiranta). I have another chance at the Stanley Cup. ”
Under his belt came a kid with 13 NHL games and one NHL goal.
“I do not know what to expect for today, my first game of my life 7,” he said. His winner – a one-timer from a pass-off slot given by defenseman Andrzej Sekera in his office behind the Aws goal – was “an unforgettable moment.”
“How many people from Sekera to Kiwiranta?” Chris Cuthbert, the voice playing the sports net play, asked on his goal call. “It’s 2020. Anything can happen!”
The teams have teamed up for 57 goals in this series, and you picked the Olympians and star players and scored the biggest. Instead, it went to an unprepared kid from Wanta, a suburb of Helsinki, where the Stars were recognized at last year’s World Championships.
“There was a game in Colorado at the beginning of the year,” Dallas head coach Rick Bounes recalled. “We brought him up, and Joe Powells knocked me to his knees and said, ‘Bones, give me Joel.’ So, the players have tremendous confidence in Kiwi. He’s a great little competitor.”
From there, Bones took the interview:
“Is he happy to be rewarded with goals?” He asked. “Yes.”
“Are we surprised? Yes.”
“Did we expect that kind of effort? Yes. We saw him when we played him earlier in the year. ”
Later, Kiwiranta hopes to play again in Round 3.
“Actually I hope to get more games. I also understand that this is not about me. Close to us, every game is important. The team, first,” he said. “This is my first year (in North America), and for most of the season I played in the AHL. A few call-ups and I tried my part.
“It’s the logo on your chest, and how you play and the team you want to help.”
Across the way, the Avalanche team could not reach the top of the mountain, pawing back from 3-1, including captain Gabriel Landescoege in Game 7 with an injury list. They reached their 3rd goal, not even a minute. Munch defenseman Eric Johnson, and also without Matt Calvert and Junas Danskoi.
“I loved seeing our team completely healthy,” said frustrated Nathan McKinnon. “We lost a lot of important people. You call it an excuse or whatever you want. That’s it too. We lost some important people to our team.”
For the first time in Game 7 of 15 playoff games, McKinnon did not understand, as the hockey world began to ask if McKinnon was better than Connor McDavid. He had nine goals and 25 points, but like McDavid, he could not overcome his club’s defensive defeats in the Fire-Wagon Series 4-3 one night, and then 5-4.
“We can’t keep this series away from our net,” he lamented. “We definitely scored enough goals to win. We had to do a good job in front of our goals.”