KalPa Upsets Kiekko-Espoo in U16 SM-Playoffs

Mar 28, 2023 | World Hockey Hub

2007-born Finnish youth hockey team KalPa celebrates defeating Kiekk-Espoo in the 2023 SM-Playoffs.
Photo from Instagram | @kalpau16sm

Vetläinen secures semifinals sweep with overtime winner

KalPa continued their impressive run during the U16 SM-Playoffs in Finland with a two-game sweep of Kiekko-Espoo. It took everything the club had, as the first game was decided via shootout and the second one required overtime as well. In that second game, Topi Veteläinen, one of KalPa’s leading scorers, skated into the zone before firing a perfect shot past Magnus Loponen to clinch the series victory. The goal clinched the series victory for KalPa, and ultimately eliminated the higher-seeded Kiekko-Espoo from the tournament.

KalPa digs deep to grab dramatic wins

As one of four teams that earned first-round byes from their top placement in the SM-Series, it seemed that Kiekko-Espoo was destined for a lengthy playoff run. When it was determined KalPa would be their first opponent, many expected a series win for K-Espoo. After all, they defeated KalPa in a 5-2 win during SM-Series action back on March 5th. 

But KalPa had other plans, feeling good about their game fresh off a series sweep of JYP in the wild card round. Many of its top forwards hit their stride against JYP, including Rasmus Pakarinen (4G, 5A), Veteläinen (3G, 5A) and Onni Heikkinen (4G, 3A). All three forwards are among the top five in playoff scoring. 

KalPa also displayed a flair for the dramatic in both victories, having to come from behind twice. They faced a 2-0 deficit in the first matchup, before Veteläinen cut into the lead late in the first period. With time dwindling down, Pakarinen evened things up in the third. And after a scoreless overtime, a shootout would decide a winner. Okko Saari, Veteläinen and Pakarinen would all score in the shootout to edge out a Game 1 win. 

Game 2 saw K-Espoo maintain a 1-0 lead through the first two periods. However, the third period would bring on an offensive explosion by both teams trading goals. K-Espoo still maintained the one-goal lead at 3-2, until KalPa pulled their goalie. With the net empty, and just 24 seconds on the clock, Saari would tie the game up to force overtime for the second consecutive game. Shortly into overtime, Veteläinen received an incredible pass from Matias Häikiö. He skated into the offensive zone unbothered before ripping a perfect top-shelf shot over the shoulder of Loponen. 

Three of four second-round series go the distance

After opening its series with an impressive 7-3 victory, HIFK was unable to close things out and dropped the next two against Tappara. Tappara and KalPa will begin a best-of-three series on March 29th. 

Ässät evened its series with Ilves with a 5-3 win after dropping the first game 10-0. After scoring two early goals, Ilves’ defense and Pyry Lammi’s 35 saves were enough to close out Game 3 with a 2-1 final. Ilves will move on to face TPS. Leading scorer Luukas Koski collected four points (2G, 2A) for Ässät, adding to his playoff total of 10 points (6G, 4A). 

A slow start by TPS allowed Jokerit to take a 1-0 series lead with a 5-2 victory. Kallio Wilmer and Olli Wahlroos stepped up to lead their squad to wins in the next two contests to take the series. 

WHH will have continued coverage of the U16 Finland National Championship. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Discord and YouTube for the latest news, top performers and more.


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