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 ET / 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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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

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2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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