The radical change made the Lions’ forward a star – the Yankee pilot did not give up: “I should stay in Finland”

The radical change made the Lions forward a star

Ahti Oksanen the path to becoming a forward of the Finnish men’s national ice hockey team is not the most usual. Oksanen switched from defender to forward only at the age of 21 while playing in the US university league.

Asia had to coach the US national ice hockey team at the World Championships David Quinn. At that time, he was piloting the Boston team in his first season.

– We played small games during training when he was a defender. I saw that he was very skilled and had a lot of talent, Quinn tells Urheilu.

After the end of the 2013–14 season, Quinn informed Oksanen that he wanted the youngster to play as a forward next year.

– He was disappointed. But I told him the good news, he is one of our top strikers. He wouldn’t play in the fourth chain by Jack Eichel alongside.

– His answer to me was, who is Jack Eichel? But he found out quickly.

At that time, NHL superstar Jack Eichel played one season in Boston before his first season in the big league. Oksanen scored 25 and Eichel 26 goals during the season.

“Should stay in Finland”

The transition from defender to attacker was not an easy one for the Finn.

“He actually called my assistant coach in the summer and said he’s been practicing defending, thinks he’s better at it and wants to play as a defender.

– When the assistant coach told me about this, I said to call Ahdi and say that if he wants to play as a defender, he should stay in Finland.

Even the first game with Eichel was a success. Oksanen scored four goals in 22 minutes.

– He didn’t take the decision well at first, but after the first game he took it really well. I thought this was a good experiment, says Quinn.

Can’t afford to complain

Oksanen admits to Urheilu that he wasn’t too enthusiastic about Quinn’s plan. He thought that the change was made a little too late.

– At first I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about it, but that’s not it. When the coach announces something, there is absolutely no room for complaint. In retrospect, it’s easy to say that luckily Quinn wanted to switch me as a forward.

Did you get the message that you don’t have to come to Boston if you don’t play forward?

– If it came, it was a little bit off for me. It was a pretty strict message from Quinn, though.

Afterward, Oksanen has praised the American manager many times for the move to striker.

– I’m really happy that it happened. I would have been a very good defender, but in that moment the coach saw something that I didn’t. Afterwards you have to be satisfied.

20 goals broken many times

Oksanen played a few more seasons in North America before moving to SaiPa for the 2017–2019 seasons. He scored 30 goals in two seasons.

In recent seasons, he has broken the 20 goal mark in SHL club Oskarshamn, Czech club Montfield and KooKoo. A total of 138 points were accumulated in these teams.

The last season in the SHL gave birth to a national team place first for EHT and finally for the World Championships. After three matches of the opening series, Oksanen has been able to flash his hard shot only three times.

– The games have been really nice. Of course, as a field, we have to be able to do better. We haven’t really been able to attack. Otherwise, it has gone very well. It is good to improve this.

Tough fisherman

In addition to his hard shot, Oksanen is known as a tough fisherman. In the World Championships, however, he has not been fishing in Näsijärvi on the days in between, but focused on resting.

– In the winter, those days are quite few, but in the summer we spend quite a lot of time on the water.

This is also clear from Oksanen’s Instagram photos. Most of the pictures are related to fishing.

What’s the biggest fish you’ve caught?

– Difficult question. They must be from the Yankees when I got to fish for saltwater bass. I’ve never measured, but probably closer to twenty kilos.