Still life is already basically teasing: the final pair, with the best striker and best defender in the series playing in different parts.
That is the situation when Kiekko-Espoo and Kalpa start the battle for gold medals in the Women’s Hockey League on Saturday.
And this time in sports, the traditional attack-against-defense setup goes a bit further. Defender of Puck-Espoo Nelli Laitinen, 18, and Kalpan winger Elisa Holopainen, 19, are friends with hockey and keep in touch with each other on a daily basis. Even right under the finals.
“Yes, we have still been in touch. After the finals, you can see how long the quiet life comes when you play on different teams, ”Laitinen said on Thursday.
When the national team is coming together, Laitinen and Holopainen spend a lot of time with each other. They are roommates at national team events. Have been since the place on the women’s national team opened for both before the 2019 World Cup.
Immediately from the first adult home competitions, a silver medal was awarded to the Laitinen and Holopainen prize lockers. Before that, both were players in the constellation field at the World Championships for under-18s played at the turn of the year 2018–19, from which Finland won a bronze medal.
On their way to the 18-year-old bronze, Holopainen and Laitinen played important roles throughout the tournament. For example, in the semi-final match, Finland equalized the game against Sweden with Laitinen’s goal and Holopainen decided the match in extra time.
“Nelli and I have already met in the girls’ national team. There were already good friends back then. It was a pretty clear thing that we became roommates on the women’s national team, ”says Holopainen.
“4-5 years is known. From the very first Leijonapentu camps, ”Laitinen recalls.
Lion Puppy Camps are national team events for girls under 16 years of age.
Holopainen and Laitinen are players who can be expected to be the backbone of the women’s national team for at least a decade. Players born in the 21st century were able to make their World Cup debut at home as well Viivi Vainikka, who played last season in Sweden.
Further increasing the role of the national team is the goal of both. Laitinen lists as development targets the accumulation of experience and the continuous development of physical characteristics, which serves both martial arts and skating.
Holopainen wants to improve fighting gaming in particular.
“The national team is a big deal for itself. There are a lot of goals, for example, to be at the World Cup and the Olympics. It is the highlight of the season to be part of the race team and succeed, ”says Holopainen.
The road of both towards the Lion Puppy camp and the national team ran in the boys’ teams. Holopainen started at the age of 4–5 and went to the junipers of Kalpa, where he played mainly with boys until he was 14–15 years old.
Laitinen has received his puck studies in Lohja. As a C-junior, he moved from the boys ’games to the women’s series in the middle of the season.
“I felt it was a good path for me. It develops a lot with boys when you have to struggle and the pace is louder. When you move to women, you can stand out there, ”says Laitinen.
Puck-Espoo gets to start the finals with a longer rest than Kalpa. Kiekko-Espoo grabbed the third victory and the final place against Ilve already on Sunday in the fourth match of the series. Kalpa and HIFK, on the other hand, twisted the full five matches, and the series was not settled until Wednesday.
“I expect a very tight series from the finals. We’ve had some really tough games in a couple of seasons already. I believe that we will get an exciting final series, ”says Laitinen.
Holopainen says Kalpa was bad in the first two semi-finals. After that, the game fell into place.
“Playing as a team wasn’t very high in the first games. Then we were able to improve the game from game, and we found playing as a team. In the winning games, everyone did everything as well as they could, ”says Holopainen.
Holopainen and Laitinen know each other’s strengths.
Laitinen still does not promise special guarding for Holopainen. Kiekko-Espoo’s strength even in the semi-finals was the close team defense, the last lock of which is the goalkeeper Tiia Pajarinen. Ilves was only able to score three situation goals in four semi-finals. It translated a strict series for the people of Espoo.
“Let’s play our own close defensive game. I don’t think you need to play against one player in the finals. I am equally strict against everyone, ”says Laitinen.
Laitisella the coming week is busy as the calendar is also filled with student records. The finals will be played on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday and, if necessary, on Thursday and Saturday.
In the student essays, Laitinen wrote text skills in his mother tongue on Friday, and after the weekend, the contract will continue on Monday in English and on Wednesday with long mathematics.
Once the writings have been taken care of and the white cap is off, Laitinen intends to focus purely on hockey during the Olympic year and seek an Olympic place from the Finnish team. After that, the studies are likely to continue.
“The clear goal would be to be able to go to university in the United States after the Olympics. The goal is to leave within a couple of years and then see where the trip will take you, ”Laitinen says.
Holopainen does not have a clear plan for going abroad.
“Of course it would sometimes be interesting to play in Sweden, but I can’t say more about the future.”
Both praise the development of the Women’s League, especially through the addition of foreign players to the clubs, who have been at the top of the series.
One example of obtaining foreign reinforcements is Helsinki IFK, which will play bronze against Ilve on Saturday. HIFK Czech Michaela Pejzlová as well as the French Emmanuelle Passard and Clara Rozier are all in the top ten on the playoffs before the finals.
TPS also succeeded in acquiring foreign players, and the team’s French striker Estelle Duvin was the central striker of the series’ constellation field.
“This season showed that foreign players are raising the level of the series. Within a few years, I have been involved in, and the games get tougher all the time. There aren’t that many easy games anymore, ”says Laitinen.
The first final of the women’s league Kiekko-Espoo – Kalpa will be played on Saturday at 12.45. The Ruutu + service shows the match live.
Hockey-Espoo defender Nelli Laitinen
■ Born in 2002
■ Defender of the Star Field of the Girls Under 18 World Championships 2019
■ Women’s World Championship silver medalist 2019
■ Powers of the current season: Initial series: 16. 11 + 19 = 30, upper sequel: 8. 2 + 5 = 7, playoffs: 6. 0 + 6 = 6
■ Awarded the Päivi Halonen Prize (best defender) this season after the regular season and was chosen for the constellation field
■ Elisa Holopainen’s comment: “Nelli is a really good defender. Everything has to be put in the league if you want to score. Nelli is also good at attacking. Outside the trough, Nelli is a happy and fast-paced guy with a sense of humor. ”
Kalpa striker Elisa Holopainen
■ Born in 2001
■ Winger of the Star Field of the Girls Under 18 World Championships 2019
■ Women’s World Championship silver medalist 2019
■ Powers of the current season: Initial series: 18. 32 + 22 = 54, upper sequel: 7. 7 + 3 = 10, playoffs: 7. 9 + 6 = 15.
■ Awarded Riikka Nieminen (best player) and Katja Riipi (best striker) this season after the regular season and selected for the constellation field.
■ Nelli Laitinen’s comment: “Elisa is a skilled goal scorer and skater. Ice skating is his strength and he is doing well. Elisa’s strengths are at the head of the offensive. Outside the trough is a really calm and social, energetic person. ”
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