By: Ken Oda, minotauroshockey.com
Minot, ND – As the Minotauros seventh season draws near it is time to start meeting the players who hope to head to the NAHL Showcase after training camp. Camp opened September 3rd and the pre-season opens on September 9th against the Bismarck Bobcats at the Maysa Arena. We continue meeting the team with goaltender Samu Lonkila.
Lonkila joins the Tauros after playing junior in his native Finland four seasons with KalPa of the Jr. A SM-Liiga in Finland. Last season Lonkila finished 9th overall among goaltenders with a .913 SV% with a 2.43 GAA. Despite being from Finland he compares himself to a Russian goaltender saying he plays “like Sergei Bobrovsky.”
Lonkila was delayed arriving in Minot and skated with the team for the first time today. The goaltender looked strong despite the long travel and said he “felt very good.” Lonkila was excited to be in Minot and believes “Minot is the best place for me and my career.”
Tauros Head Coach and General Manager Marty Murray described the difficulty of scouting a foreign player, “Samu is a player that we don’t know a lot about other than watching video. He played in the same league as former Tauro, Atte Tolvanen, and put up strong numbers.” For comparison sake as an 18 year-old former Tauro Atte Tolvenen posted a .922 SV% and 2.55 GAA while the Jr. A SM-Liiga.
Murray was impressed with his first look at Lonkila, “Just watching him today in practice, he has a presence about him, and you can see he’s an experienced goaltender. I’m anxious to see him in camp over the next couple of weeks to see how looks once he gets comfortable with his new environment.”
Assistant Coach Wyatt Waselenchuk who starred in net for the Minot State Beavers and now works with the Tauros and Beaver’s goaltenders was also impressed by Lonkila, “He is very good down low. Seals the ice well and is an extremely strong skater. His quickness and speed will make him an elite goaltender at our level.” Waselenchuk has high hopes for Lonkila as a Tauro adding, “Once he adjusts to the smaller ice surface and the North American style of play, we are confident he will be a huge addition for our hockey club.”
Come back tomorrow when we will meet forward Keenan Lund. Do not miss your chance to see Lonkila and all of the Tauros in game action for the first time September 9th at 7:35 at the Maysa Arena when the Bismarck Bobcats come to Minot to open the pre-season. Tickets will be $5.00 at the door and season ticket holders get in for free.