Ice hockey: GB-Finland clash 'special' for Kauhanen
PUBLISHED: 09:16 17 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:16 17 May 2019
Former Raiders import Timo Kauhanen admits the World Championship clash between his native Finland and Great Britain will be 'special' to watch.
Kauhanen scored 86 goals and 165 assists in 132 appearances for Raiders over the course of five seasons, winning the English League Division One South title in 1997 and the EPL Cup in 2002.
And he will be tuning in to watch coverage from Slovakia with several former team-mates on Friday (7.15pm), with GB competing in the top division for the first time in a quarter of a century.
He said: "It's so great to see team GB there. The game between Finland and GB will be special one to watch since I have some excellent memories from my time in British hockey - especially at Romford.
"It will be fantastic for all great British hockey fans for sure. I will be watching the game with many ex-Raiders in Spain (Antti Makikyro, Jaakko Komulainen, Jani Lehtovaara, Craig Metcalf) and also ex-Invicta players Mikko Skinnari and Henrik Schönberg - alongside with "team manager" Scott Johnston at Antti's stag do!"
You may also want to watch:
But having suffered four successive losses against Germany (3-1), Canada (8-0), Denmark (9-0) and the USA (6-3), GB face a tough test against a Finland side that have beaten Canada (3-1) and Slovakia (4-2), lost in overtime to the USA (3-2) and came from behind to beat Denmark (3-1) on Thursday night.
Kauhanen added: "The Finnish team is a rather young team with a lot of unknown players. We only have two players who played part of their season in NHL, but at the same time around 10 more players are expected to play in NHL next season, including a potential number one pick this summer - Kaapo Kakko - who is 18 and scored two goals against Canada in the first game.
"Since we don't have any big stars everyone is eager to show their talent and play for the team. Most of the team has been practicing together for a month, so they have gelled well together.
"I think Finland has a good chance to do well this year, too. Kaapo Kakko is definitely a player to watch. He will have a great future for sure. Also, defenceman Henri Jokiharju is someone to watch. He is still really young too - he was part of the U20 gold medal team this season - and played part of the season with Chicago Blackhawks.
"Apart from Kaapo Kakko, other forwards to watch are Juho Lammikko (Florida Panthers), Arttu Ilomäki (Lukko) and Eetu Luostarinen (Kalpa). From defencemen Mikko Lehtonen (HV71) is pretty interesting too.
"We have always had good goalies. This time is not different, although they are all rather young. Kevin Lankinen (Rockford IceHogs) is at the moment seen as the number one goalie."