Finns in U.S. College

AmeriFinn
02-17-2004, 04:38 PM
Does anyone have any opinions on why there aren't more Finns playing U.S. college hockey. Is it that most Finnish kids aren't interesed in it or is it that there is not many teams recruiting there. One of the ones I remember, who then went on to the NHL, is Jarkko Ruutu (Vancouver) who played for Michigan Tech University, but he only played one year.

ES
02-18-2004, 02:20 AM
Of the Finnish NHL players, at least Peter Ahola (LA/Pit/SJ/Cgy), Marko Tuomainen (Edm/LA/NYI) and Antti Laaksonen have played in US colleges.

Kevin Forbes
02-18-2004, 07:04 AM
Juha Alen (3rd Round in 2003 by Anaheim) spent 1 season at Northern Michigan before joining the Ducks this year (currently in Cincinnati)

eh
02-18-2004, 07:53 AM
Matti Kaltiainen, the Bruins' goalie prospect is from Finland and currently playing in Boston College.

Some SM-liiga players that have played U.S. College hockey: Toni Söderholm (UMass-Amherst/HIFK), Mikko Ruutu (Clarkson University/Jokerit (Senators draft pick), Samuli Jalkanen (UMass-Amherst/Jokerit), Markus Helanen (UMass-Amherst/Jokerit), ...

From what I heard from a friend who spent a couple of years in the US playing college soccer, the opportunity to combine education with sports is quite unique, but it demands a lot of activity from the athlete him/herself to find the right place, financing etc.

GKJ
02-18-2004, 10:31 AM
To answer the question though, Finland is a better league, better competition and better quality of play than the NCAA.

tmoh
02-18-2004, 01:42 PM
In this season, there are at least these Finnish players in different U.S. college/university leagues:

Men:

- Aki Elomaa, Finlandia University Lions
- Jussi Halme, Denver University Pioneers
- Matti Kaltiainen, Boston College Eagles
- Hannu Karru, Niagara University Purple Eagles
- Jaakko Kolari, New England College Pilgrims
- Max Kolu, Clarkson University Golden Knights
- Tommi Pärmäkoski, Minot State University Beavers
- Pekka Saittakari, Michigan Tech Huskies
- Tuomas Tarkki, Northern Michigan University Wildcats
- Eero Vartiainen, Saint Anselm College Hawks
- Mikael Virta, St. Norbert College Green Knighs

Women:

- Satu Kiipeli, Minnesota-Duluth University Bulldogs
- Emma Laaksonen, Ohio State University Buckeyes
- Anna-Kaisa Piiroinen, Minnesota-Duluth University Bulldogs
- Heidi Tallqvist, Findlay University Oilers
- Nora Tallus, Minnesota-Duluth University Bulldogs
- Suvi Vacker, Minnesota-Duluth University Bulldogs

Source: http://www.henriksson.com/suomu/

Jacob
02-18-2004, 02:53 PM
How does it work? I mean, take Kaltiainen for instance, he played in SM-Liiga before coming to the NCAA. It's a pro league.

AmeriFinn
02-18-2004, 04:16 PM
To answer the question though, Finland is a better league, better competition and better quality of play than the NCAA.

You may be right but do you have any facts to back this up. A good comparison I think would be to look at the amount of players in the Finnish leauge compared to the number they send to the NHL and compare to NCAA numbers.

Another question I have is how hard or easy is it to get a college education in Finland compared to the U.S. Might this factor into their decision.

jepjepjoo
02-18-2004, 06:41 PM
You may be right but do you have any facts to back this up. A good comparison I think would be to look at the amount of players in the Finnish leauge compared to the number they send to the NHL and compare to NCAA numbers.

Another question I have is how hard or easy is it to get a college education in Finland compared to the U.S. Might this factor into their decision.

Offseason 2001: 23 players from Finnish Elite League signed NHL contract

Offseason 2003: 18 players from Finnish Elite League signed NHL contract

If I counted em right :)

Spiffy
02-19-2004, 12:12 AM
You may be right but do you have any facts to back this up. A good comparison I think would be to look at the amount of players in the Finnish leauge compared to the number they send to the NHL and compare to NCAA numbers.

I don't think that'd be a good comparison in as if the league is better. The WHL basically has had almost half of the NHL players and I wouldn't say it is not even close to as good as any of the bigger European leagues.

eh
02-19-2004, 03:04 AM
Another question I have is how hard or easy is it to get a college education in Finland compared to the U.S. Might this factor into their decision.
It's relatively easy to get college education in Finland - and it's free, but the thing is that combining professional level sports and college education is much harder in Finland than it is in an US college.

tmoh
02-19-2004, 03:59 AM
How does it work? I mean, take Kaltiainen for instance, he played in SM-Liiga before coming to the NCAA. It's a pro league.

Actually Kaltiainen hasn't ever really played in SM-liiga. During two seasons he was just a back-up goalie in 27 games, and most of the time he played in the junior team.

Pekka Lampinen
02-19-2004, 04:11 AM
How does it work? I mean, take Kaltiainen for instance, he played in SM-Liiga before coming to the NCAA. It's a pro league.

No Finnish player mentioned in this thread has been an SM-Liiga regular before moving to the NCAA. In fact, I think none of the Finns currently there has ever played a single SM-Liiga game. They all left for North America as Jr.A players or second tier semi-pros. The best immediate success had by a Finn after college (in the last ten years or so) is by Toni Söderholm, who was the SM-Liiga rookie of the year at the age of 24 last season.

I dug up a couple of articles (JKL 6/02 and 1/03 for those interested) about Finnish collegiates, but the actual process of moving overseas was ignored. It seemed that pretty much everybody were on partial scholarships.

NCAA is the weaker league because the talent is spread so thin and due to the nature of the league, there are hardly any veterans to speak of. As the age distributions of other leagues indicate, they are the best players. For example, out of the top 25 scorers in SM-Liiga only three are NHL prospects.

AmeriFinn
02-19-2004, 03:58 PM
NCAA is the weaker league because the talent is spread so thin and due to the nature of the league, there are hardly any veterans to speak of. As the age distributions of other leagues indicate, they are the best players. For example, out of the top 25 scorers in SM-Liiga only three are NHL prospects.

I agree with you that they are better leagues but the U.S. also has semi pro leagues such as the AHL which are better than college also for the same reason. But most kids don't bypass college to go play in this league. Typically they are former college and junior players or college players who sign NHL contracts early and then get sent down to these leagues. So I guess I am wondering about the players 18-22 who may not be ready to play in SM-Liiga. What leagues are they playing in and are they better or comparable to the NCAA. Also are these kids pursuing college educations while playing in these other leagues.

Raimo Sillanpää
02-20-2004, 12:42 AM
I agree with you that they are better leagues but the U.S. also has semi pro leagues such as the AHL which are better than college also for the same reason. But most kids don't bypass college to go play in this league. Typically they are former college and junior players or college players who sign NHL contracts early and then get sent down to these leagues. So I guess I am wondering about the players 18-22 who may not be ready to play in SM-Liiga. What leagues are they playing in and are they better or comparable to the NCAA. Also are these kids pursuing college educations while playing in these other leagues.

Generally I'd say many of them are studying at College in Finland,
they're either in an SM-Liiga teams depth, getting the odd game now, getting more games next season and then a full season..
Or they're in their SM-Liiga teams youth team, juniors A's where they are until they force themselves into pro team consideration -> Tukonen is a good example here
Or they get loaned out to a Mestis team, more frequent these days, Nikolas Hagman was one I think, he coudn't make the Ilves team so he went to play for Kärpät in what became Mestis, then Kärpät got promoted and Hagman played in SM-Liiga wiht them before departing for Florida..

This season many played with the touring u-20 team, which was a great move and should be made a regurlar event imho, giving these kids ice time against MEN is what they need.. an U-20 team in Mestis would suit this perfectly..