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Canucks May Have Found the Next Finnish Goalie Gem

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To the naked eye, Vancouver Canucks goaltending prospect Aku Koskenvuo simply looks like a very solid goalie, a modern goalie. He has the stance, the size, and the athletic ability of some of the Finnish netminding greats who this Espoo native idolized.

“When I was younger, probably (Tuukka) Rask, but then when I grew up and got a little bit taller, and you know, maybe I started to like, I think I’m like (with) the athletic attributes, Pekka Rinnewho’s a hero,” Koskenvuo said. “But both of them are big heroes to me.”

Goalies tend to slide down the NHL draft lists a bit, meaning fans and pundits shouldn’t be discouraged by Koskenvuo being taken in the 5th round in 2021. The Vancouver Canucks are very happy to have him.

“Obviously, he’s got a very tall, lanky, long frame, which is always good, you know, gives a goaltender value,” Vancouver Canucks Goaltending Coach Ian Clark told VHN. “But again, it’s his work habits, his discipline, his attention to detail and it’s his athleticism, his natural athleticism for the goaltending position. All of these things are things that we look for.”

Clark and the Canucks brought all of their young goalies in prior to the start of the Vancouver Canucks full Development Camp to dig into their games and get some specialized work and instruction done over two days. Just goalies.

“The other thing I like about it is, it then frees them up to just join the broader main development camp and just be a part of the group,” Clark added. “Often when they don’t do their own work ahead, what ends up happening, you’re pulling them out here and pulling them out there and extracting them here and extracting them there and they don’t get the full value of the whole development camps. So this way they can just be a part of the group, enjoy the environment, and be a part of the quote-unquote team.”

It also allows them to immediately implement the instruction ‘Clarkie’ has given them.

“He is pretty much the best coach I have had,” Koskenvuo said. “Top notch everything, and I feel he really understands how a modern goalkeeper should play, and he’s approaching to all of us like individuals, not just trying to form all of us together. The individual (work) is great.”

High praise considering Koskenvuo has already worked with, and will continue to do so later this summer, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) goalie coach Marko Torenius, a fellow Finn.

“He’s also a really, really good coach,” Koskenvuo added in mildly broken English, “and I think like my technique and stuff like that has been definitely improving with him and he has like, a lot of good stuff.”

After that, the goalie heads off to NCAA hockey and intense academia at Harvard in Boston.

Koskenvuo mentioned he’s comfortable adapting to the narrower North American ice surface where he said shots are “a little bit closer”, compared to the international ‘Olympic’ sized rinks that are 15-feet wider back home.

He may have a chance to apply that adaptation on a big stage as he’ll be in consideration to represent his country in the 2023 World Junior Championships that begin in December in Nova Scotia.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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