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An Entirely Different Kind of Camp

Islanders prospect Ville Pokka is spending his summer in Finland training with the National Army

Friday, 07.19.2013 / 5:06 PM / News
By Travis Betts
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An Entirely Different Kind of Camp
Islanders prospect Ville Pokka is spending his summer in Finland training with the National Army

While most Islanders prospects participated in a week-long mini camp this summer on Long Island, learning the ins and outs of the Islanders training program, 2012 Draft pick Ville Pokka is engaged in an entirely different kind of camp – an army boot camp – back in his native Finland. This summer, he is fulfilling his mandatory military obligations while also balancing regular on-ice practices with other young Finnish players.

“We’re doing all sorts of training, including learning to use firearms,” Pokka said. “Last week we spent four days in the forest and then we had to walk 35 kilometers (approximately 22 miles) with backpacks on and our weapons with us, and that stuff is pretty heavy.”

From June through November, Pokka will train with the Finnish Army. Beginning at 6 a.m., he spends up to 12 hours a day doing the army’s training regimen, after which he usually hits the ice for hockey practice with his local team.

“Our schedule isn’t like that every day,” Pokka said. “During some weeks we actually get to skate two times a day. We’ve got almost 20 guys on the ice, so we have good practices all the time,” Pokka said.

Per national laws, Pokka and his countrymen are required to serve at least six months in a military program. Although his Sm-liiga team, Karpat Oulu, will begin play again in September, Pokka will continue his army training for the first couple months of the regular season, albeit on a smaller scale.

“As professional hockey players, we don’t spend as much time [with army training],” Pokka said. “And it gets easier the longer you’ve been doing the army training. Once the season starts, we can train full-time with our teams, and spend 1-2 days a week with the army.”

The 6’0, 206-pound blueliner says that in addition to the physical benefits, the training is sharpening his mind as well.

“We have to be ready to go at all times,” Pokka said. “We have exercises that we have to do in a short time, so we have to be quick too.”

The 19-year-old recently completed his second full campaign with Karpat, where he has been the youngest player on the roster throughout his tenure with the club. In 2012-13, he established new highs in goals (six), assists (six) and points (12) in 47 games, adding two assists in three playoff games. Pokka will continue his development with Karpat next season.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
3 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
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2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 65 30 35 4 65
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 65 14 28 23 42
B. Nelson 65 17 20 7 37
F. Nielsen 65 11 25 13 36
A. Lee 59 21 13 13 34
J. Bailey 53 13 19 11 32
J. Boychuk 55 7 23 14 30
N. Leddy 65 8 18 16 26
T. Hamonic 55 4 21 16 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 1 .911 2.47
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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