International Ice Hockey Federation

Finland changes coach

Finland changes coach

U18 coach Ahokas takes over

Published 30.12.2016 22:28 GMT-5 | Author Martin Merk
Finland changes coach
Jussi Ahokas led Finland to gold at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. Photo: Minas Panagiotakis / HHOF-IIHF Images
After missing the final round of the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, the Finnish Ice Hockey Association has changed its head coach.

Instead of Jukka Rautakorpi, who coached the team since the beginning of the season including the first three preliminary-round games that Finland all lost, the Finnish U20 national team will be coached by Jussi Ahokas with immediate effect. Ahokas was foreseen as U20 national team coach for the 2017/2018 season.

In the past three years the 36-year-old has worked as head coach with Finland’s 1998-born players and led them to gold at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship in Grand Forks, USA. Seven players of the current U20 squad in Montreal were on Ahokas’ team last spring including defencemen Miro Heiskanen, Urho Vaakanainen, Juuso Valimaki, and forwards Janne Kuokkanen, Aapeli Rasanen, Eeli Tolvanen and Kristian Vesalainen.

Earlier Ahokas has worked as a youth hockey coach with the Espoo Blues, which he led to a silver-medal finish in the U20 league in 2013. He also worked in the women’s national team coaching staff at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and three Women’s World Championships (2007, 2008, 2009), winning two bronze medals (2008, 2009).

Ahokas is already in Montreal where he has been working as TV expert for Finnish broadcaster YLE. At the Bell Centre Finland will play a best-of-three relegation round against Latvia with games on 2nd, 3rd and if needed 5th January.

It is the first time that a defending World Junior Champion has to play in the relegation round. Since the first World Junior Championship in 1977 Finland has never been ranked worse than 7th. The only times Finland didn’t have a top-8 ranking in an IIHF event was with the men’s national team in the World Championships in 1939 and 1955.

 

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