In modern hockey it’s increasingly uncommon to find players who grow up in, or near, a town and go on to spend almost their entire careers with their home team.
JYP’s notable ‘loyal servant’ in that category is Captain Juha-Pekka Hytönen, who we looked at in more detail previously.
But there is a new generation of players in Jyväskylä who are also on the same course. At only 23 years old, Henri Kanninen has played four seasons with JYP Jyväskylä, taking the SM-liiga bronze medal twice in his career. Kanninen began his hockey career with JYP’s Junior teams playing with the U16 to the U20s, establishing himself as a successful player he climbed up the ranks and has gone on to play 147 games for the team. Kanninen has scored 41 goals during his time, and this is his fourth CHL experience with JYP Jyväskylä.
Kanninen isn’t the only player who’s stayed loyal to his club. Jaakko Jokinen, 24, has played for his home team since he was a boy, playing for the junior teams and rising up to play for JYP. Unlike Kanninen, this is Jokinen’s first season in the CHL.
Joonas Nättinen, current forward for JYP, was a NHL draft pick for the Montreal Canadiens back in 2009. Born 60km from Jyväskylä, he’s been with the team through the youth program and into the U20s before moving to Espoo. Nättinen returned to Jyväskylä in 2015 and has notched over 80 points in two and a half seasons.
Goalie Eetu Laurikainen, who has tended to be the team's back-up in the CHL, has a similar path to Nättinen, playing most of his hockey in Jyväskylä save five seasons away, which the 24-year-old spent in the WHL, AHL, ECHL, and a year in Espoo.
With forwards Arttu Likola and Anton Straka, and defenceman Ossi Ikonen, as well as other, JYP boasts a squad with strong ties to the team – either coming from towns in and around Jyväskylä, or spending large parts of their junior careers in the team’s youth setup. Perhaps that might carry them over the line in the Final? We’ll find out in just over a week!