Canada’s head coach Andre Tourigny sees that Jukka Jalose could have a future in North America. Experienced power forward Milan Lucic is looking forward to playing in front of the Finnish audience.
TAMPERE. The Canadian team got a feel for Tampere’s WC arena during Thursday’s morning practice before the evening’s quarter-final against Leijon.
The team that played in the preliminary series in Riga traveled to Finland on Wednesday, and from the apparently very focused team, you could sense that today is the real deal.
The Stanley Cup winner who played almost 1,200 NHL games was also on the ice Milan Lucicrepresenting Canada for the first time at any level.
When Calgary, represented by Lucic, 34, was left out of the playoffs, the desire to go to the World Cup was so strong that he himself contacted the Canadian Federation and expressed his interest.
– I’ve heard from my teammates who played in the World Cup over the years that you have to experience this tournament at least once in your career. Now there was a seam and I grabbed it, Lucic talked.
– There haven’t really been any opportunities before, because in many years I’ve played in the playoffs so far. It’s been a great honor and really fun to represent Canada.
Lucic, who scored 2+1 in the first series, is a heavy-set and more than a hundred-kilogram power forward, for whom playing in a European rink is also a new experience. Slowly, all available squares begin to take shape.
– At first, of course, it was a big change. Including the training game, we have played eight games and trained daily, so now it starts to feel normal already.
Lucic doesn’t know much about the Lions’ team, but the name of the biggest star immediately comes to mind.
– Finland is a hardworking team that plays well as a team and always fights for medals. Mikko Rantanen is one of the best players in the world and has had a great season, Lucic beamed.
Even though he already has 136 playoff games under his belt in the world’s toughest hockey league, expectations for tonight’s game were high.
– I have played big games in front of big audiences, but I have not yet experienced a Finnish audience in their home hall. You just have to keep the game simple and try to stay on the puck in the offensive zone.
“The representatives of the goals play a big role”
Coaching Arizona in the NHL Andre Tourigny to know what kind of challenge Canada is facing tonight. The Canadian commander was part of the team for the previous two years as an assistant coach, and now, in the role of head coach, he aims to send the Lions to the choir even before the medal games.
– They play well as a five and they have depth. Everyone plays pretty much the same way, but of course Mikko Rantanen comes to mind as the first individual. Finland is not a one-trick pony, Tourigny stated.
– We have to go to the finish line hard and find ways to get there. They throw a lot of pucks at the goal and try to control the goals. I think that the representatives of both goals will play a big role.
Canada lost in the first group to Switzerland and surprisingly also to Norway, but the group ended with second place and a 3–1 victory over the Czech Republic. Arizona quarterback Juuso Välimäki sizzling Tourigny reminds us that the most important thing is just to get on.
– It doesn’t matter how you start, but how you finish and how the game develops. Just look at Florida and what they are doing now in the NHL. They barely made the playoffs and are now in the finals.
Tourigny has followed the head coach of the Lions in the tournaments of the last few years Jukka Jalonen work. Last weekend at the promotion of the University of Jyväskylä, Jalonen, who was awarded an honorary doctor of sports sciences, has spoken of his desire to go to North America to coach, and Tourigny sees no obstacles to that.
– Jukka always makes his team play committed, close and hard. He has shown that he can win. It’s just about getting the chance.