Red hot in the league play-offs in the spring and in the last two JVM squads. But when the junior WC is to be played in August, Joel Blomqvist will not be placed. There are also other reasons than just sports, coach Antti Pennanen explains to Yle Sporten.
The Junior World Cup of Ice Hockey was moved after the winter’s corona chaos to August and the tournament is held in Edmonton 9-20.8.
Finland will start preparing for the World Cup with a camp in Vierumäki in July. In addition to the selected national team squad, a challenger squad also gathers there, and the selected players were presented on Wednesday.
For the latter squad, Joel Blomqvist is too old, but in the regular JVM squad, the goalkeeper was expected to be given. This after he has been with the Junior Lions in the last two championships, and made a strong spring in the league for Kärpät.
But in the presented squad there was no Blomqvist. The 20-year-old was poked in favor of Leevi Meriläinen, Rasmus Korhonen and Juha Jatkola.
– Of course I was surprised. I have had this as a goal and looked forward to the World Cup in August, Blomqvist says to Yle Sporten.
Has no obstacle to gambling
Blomqvist is currently completing his military service at the Swedish Armed Forces’ sports school in Sandhamn. But the service had not been an obstacle for the gathering in July or the championship in August.
There was nothing else in the way of games either, Nykarlebysonen confirms.
– I noticed that I was not present, and I did not receive an invitation. The Armed Forces has probably not been in the way, I’m just not selected.
– You can never be sure to join, but I probably expected a bit to join.
Blomqvist had no contact with the team management prior to the squad selection.
– It’s just been quiet. People have basically been waiting to hear something about an invitation, but no one came.
Sporting and non-sporting reasons
When Yle Sporten reaches U20 head coach Antti Pennanen, he has not yet had contact with Blomqvist – but would like to have it. But he also has reasons for his decision:
– He is an extremely talented goalkeeper, it is clear that we know that. But there are also other reasons than sports, Pennanen begins.
– We experienced that Meriläinen and Jatkola were very good during our collections, and they certainly form our main duo.
That was the sporting reason. So there is also something else that the coach wants to highlight:
– My feeling has been that Blomqvist has a strong will to invest in his NHL career. It has been in the spring and I have been reached by the same information this summer that it is the NHL dream that applies, but more than that I do not want to comment.
The coach contacted Yle Sporten’s conversation
After the conversation with Yle Sporten, Pennanen chooses to call Blomqvist directly, to give him the above-mentioned reasons.
– I knew there would be talk of this election, the coach admits.
When Kärpät had been knocked out of the playoffs, Blomqvist crossed the Atlantic to get acquainted with North American hockey. There, the goalkeeper played a match in the AHL with Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, the father team of the Pittsburgh Penguins where he is drafted, at the same time as the Junior Lions participated in a four-team tournament in the Czech Republic.
This is how the Kärpät keeper reasoned after he was told that he prioritises the NHL over the national team:
– Of course I have NHL dreams – but I think everyone else in the national team also has. I do not really understand this.
That the NHL would be in the way of national team games in the near future is also not true.
– They are not sure if I will go to NHL camp or not, sighs Blomqvist, who is set to guard Kärpät’s goal this winter.
– Everything is open to me.
JVM games are anything but likely as the name is missing in the camp squad.
– Of course, during the summer there can be damage and everything else. But right now it looks like Meriläinen and Jatkola are our tandem, Pennanen states.
– You have to remember that they were excellent when we played, Meriläinen was the tournament’s best goalkeeper in Plymouth last year. And in November, Jatkola was the best of all when we played in Sweden. Now in the Czech Republic, Jatkola was the best in the tournament.
– Of course, the sporting is also crucial. These two have been a bit ahead of Blomqvist when we had collections, Pennanen lists.
For Blomqvist, this looks like a sad end to his junior career, as he will now be counted as a senior. In his two previous junior WCs, he never got the chance.
– Both championships were great experiences, but as I said, I was not allowed to play, which was boring, of course you want to do it. I did not really get the chance, which is sour, the goalkeeper admits.
– It gives an extra spark to train more and try to get better, it goes without saying.