U16 SM-Series Regular Season Awards

Mar 17, 2023 | Peter Rossi

Eetu Orpana, forward for 2007-born Finnish youth hockey team Tappara fires a shot.
Photo from Instagram | @vanninenphotos

Orpana earns league MVP honors for Tappara

On Monday, the regular season awards and all-star team selections for the U16 SM-Series in Finland were handed out. With playoffs right around the corner, the league paused for a moment to recognize some of the players in the league this season. 

Teppo Numminen Award – League MVP

Eetu Orpana – Tappara

Eetu Orpana was considered the best of the best this season amongst his fellow Finnish stars, earning the Teppo Numminen Award as the most valuable player. Compiling 14 goals and 37 points in 15 games for No. 2 Tappara, he was arguably the most consistent forward from any club. He was also awarded the Sami Kapanen Award as best overall forward. He put an exclamation point on his stellar season by tallying at least one point in eight of the team’s final nine regular season contests. 

Jukka Tammmi Award – Best Goaltender

Jooa Sammalniemi – Lukko

Jooa Sammalniemi of No. 6 Lukko was one of the best goaltenders this year at stopping the puck. Garnering a .919 save percentage and 2.89 goals-against average over eight games, he was consistent as the last line of defense for his squad. 

Ilpo Koskela Award – Best Defenseman

Ossi Tukio – Ilves

No. 3 Ilves reaped the benefits of having a dynamic playmaker on the blue line this season. Ossi Tukio ended SM-Series play as the team’s fifth-best scorer. In 35 games he scored seven goals and 24 points to bolster Ilves’ attack. While being equipped with the ability to jump into a rush with ease or get shots through traffic from the point, Tukio was also dependable in his own end. The native of Tampere was only whistled for one penalty. 

Reijo Leppänen Award – Most Points

Joonas Rajala – Tappara

Despite three players finishing with 37 points, Joonas Rajala was given top placement having done so by scoring the most goals with 21. After him, the next highest point total on Tappara was Juho Kuisma with 20. 

Timo Jutila Award – Rookie of the Year

Jiko Laitinen – Ilves

Finishing the season fourth overall in scoring with 34 points, Jiko Laitinen burst onto this scene in his first year of SM-Series play. His dynamic ability to find the back of the net was on full display all season long, as he also finished as the leading goal scorer with 25. A menace on special teams, he was able to add five power-play goals and three shorthanded goals to his credit as well. 

Joe Wirkkunen Award – Coach of the Year

Samuli Simula – Ilves

Head coach Samuli Simula led his team to a second-place finish this season with a 14-2-0 record. Ilves did not participate in SM-Series play last season, and prior to that season, they finished fourth. 

Esa Keskinen Award – Power Player Award

Jalmari Melanen – Ilves

Holger Granström Award – Most Gentlemanly Player

Aleksi Koponen – Ilves

Student Award

Jeremi Virtanen – TPS

First-Team All-Stars

Goaltender: Jooa Sammalniemi – Luuko
Defender: Ossi Tukio – Ilves
Defender: Reinis Auzins – Ilves
Forward: Joonas Rajala – Tappara
Forward: Eetu Orpana – Tappara
Forward: Rasmus Kämäräinen – Jokerit

Second-Team All Stars

Goaltender: Pyry Lammi – Ässät
Defender: Emil Vänninen – Tappara
Defender: Erno Uusitalo – K-Espoo
Forward: Jalmari Melanen – Ilves
Forward: Jiko Laitinen – Ilves
Forward: Olli Wahlroos – TPS

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