Tag Archives: Mikael Granlund

Team Finland Gets Heroes Welcome In Helsinki

Believe it or not, there was some good news for Wild fans over the weekend, although it was hugely overshadowed by the tragic passing of Derek Boogaard.

But one of Boogaard’s former teams, the Houston Aeros, is now two wins away from advancing to the Calder Cup finals after a 3-2 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs last night. Colton Gillies notched the game-winner while Robbie Earl and Marco Scandella also scored. Jared Spurgeon notched a pair of assists.

There is still a lot of work to be done right now for the Aeros, but thus far, their playoff record is an impressive 10-3. And this was a team that didn’t get a sniff of the postseason a year ago.

And across the pond, Boogaard’s fellow 2001 Wild draftee Mikko Koivu won a gold medal at the World Championships as Finland thumped their arch nemesis, Team Sweden by a 6-1 score. Koivu and Mikael Granlund each had an assist in the game, but of course the talk of the tournament was Granlund’s jaw-dropping goal in the semifinals against Russia. The Wild’s top pick last year finished the tournament with two goals and seven assists in nine games.

If you have any doubt about how popular the kid is over there, check out this link so you can build your own Granlund Paper Doll.

As for Koivu, he picked up two goals and six assists in the nine games and served as team captain.

To view some photos upon Team Finland’s arrival back in Helsinki, you can check out this gallery courtesy of Tomi Natri.

Finally, Martin Havlat and Marek Zidlicky picked up bronze medals after defeating Russia in the third place game. Zidlicky had a goal and four assists in nine games, while Havlat had two goals and four assists in six games.

Wild World Championship Update

Last week, Dennis Endras started things off the right way for players with Wild ties at the IIHF World Championship. He posted a shut out of Russia in the opening game of the tournament. He appeared to set the tone for some other players of interest to Wild fans.

Mikael Granlund has had himself a nice showing through two games in helping Finland go 2-0. The 2010 first round pick tallied a power play goal in a 5-1 win over Denmark, becoming the first Team Finland player born in the 1990’s to register a goal in World Championship competition. In a 3-2 shootout win over Latvia, Granlund picked up assists on both regulation goals and would have been Finland’s final shooter in the shootout if not for Mikko Koivu sealing the win with his patented backhand roof shot on the glove hand side. Koivu also has an assist through two games.

Finland’s next opponent will be the Czech Republic, which is also 2-0 thus far.  Martin Havlat is tied for the team lead in scoring with a goal and two assists, while Marek Zidlicky has one helper.

Brent Burns and Cal Clutterbuck each have a point for undefeated Team Canada, with Burns notching a goal and Clutterbuck assisting on a Travis Zajac tally in a 9-1 rout of France. Canada is currently trailing Switzerland, 1-0 in the final game of pool play.

Finland Day Two

Hello again from Helsinki!

It was a great day here for Day Two, with a lot of action and a lot of hockey. This morning, the Wild players shook off the cobwebs for the first practice of the trip, which was held in the practice rink underneath Hartwall Areena, where the team will play Carolina on Thursday and Friday.

Rink might be stretching what this place was actually like. The ceilings and walls are like rock, and in parts, stick out over the ice surface. It didn’t seem to bother the players, who seemed to enjoy the up-tempo practice.

It wasn’t official at the time of practice, but the Wild did confirm the signing of goaltender Jose Theodore later in the day. Theodore will join the team next week, which means he missed out on the team’s trip to Sauna Island this afternoon. It was a player and coach-only event, and I’m doubting we’ll find out too much about all that went on, but I’ll challenge my inner-Mike Russo to try and dig up some dirt.

The entire front office staff, including owner Craig Leipold, GM Chuck Fletcher and Assistant GM Brent Flahr, took in tonight’s Finnish Elite League Game between H.I.F.K. Helsinki and Assat. Mikael Granlund, the Wild’s first round pick last year, plays for H.I.F.K. and he put on a show for his future employers. He finished the night with a goal and three assists and was named the game’s Second Star after his club bulldozed to an 11-3 victory.

This one wasn’t as close as the score indicated as Assat didn’t appear to even be in the same class. They had no answer for Granlund and his Finnish superstar linemate, Ville Peltonen. As for Granlund, he’s going to be a good one. He’s still just a kid playing with adults, but he always seems to be in the right spot, make the right play and he gets to the net. That’s how he scored his goal, parking himself in front and tipping a high shot as it whizzed by.

Russo and I spoke to a 16-year-old Granlund fan named Tuomas, who wore his number 64 jersey. The youngster says Granlund “will be one of the most talented Finnish players ever when he is older.” He was a great interview, and you can see that on Wild.com later as well.

We had the chance to talk to Mikael after the game, and that and some highlights will be posted on Wild.com later today.

What an atmosphere! The crowd, especially in the corner where we were seated, were singing, chanting, dancing, clapping and waving flags for the entire game. The only time they weren’t going crazy was during the intermissions, when the arena nearly empties out completely. My only complaint was that every time Assat took a penalty, the song “Bad to the Bone” would play. It didn’t help that Assat took roughly 134 penalties in this game. Other than that, it was an amazing experience, and truly an atmosphere I’ve never had the chance to see. I’m already excited for Monday’s exhibition in Tampere, which by the way is pronounced “Tam-pear-ah.”

There were some fights in this one as well, which from what I understand, is not all that common in Finnish games. Assat started getting pretty chippy, especially when it was clear a blowout was going to happen.

Keep an eye out on Wild.com for more on Granlund, and plenty of video in the next few hours. Since I’m told I’m getting some bad information on my Finnish translations, I will just say “talk to you later.” It only makes sense, because I’ve hardly run into anybody here that doesn’t speak English.