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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.

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 46 21 24 -2 45
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 46 8 25 16 33
B. Nelson 46 15 15 6 30
F. Nielsen 46 9 16 4 25
J. Boychuk 36 4 18 15 22
J. Bailey 34 8 13 8 21
N. Leddy 46 7 14 15 21
N. Kulemin 46 11 9 1 20
A. Lee 40 13 5 7 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 25 9 0 .910 2.41
C. Johnson 6 5 0 .870 3.38

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