Helenius, Riku

European Game Day: 9-15-11

SM-liiga (Finland)
JYP 0 @ KalPa 2
Riku Helenius, JYP, DNP
Season totals: 0 GP, 0-0-0, 0 SO, 0.00 GAA. 1.000 sv%

Riku Helenius sat backup today in JYP's 2-0 opening loss to KalPa. Former Devils prospect Ari Ahonen had a 23 save shutout in the match and former NHLer Sami Kapanen scored one of KalPa's goals. JYP's next match is Saturday versus Karpat.

Elitserien (Sweden)
Vaxjo 3 @ Lulea 2 (SO)
Johan Harju, Lulea, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Season totals: 1 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM

Vaxjo Lakers scored a pair of third period goals to erase a 2-0 deficit and went on to win in a shootout 3-2 over Lulea. Johan Harju was scoreless in the match, with 4 shots on goal, and he was denied by former NHLer Martin Gerber in his shootout attempt. He started on Lulea's second line along side center Niklas Olausson and left winger Mattias Persson. Vaxjo's goals came from former Oilers prospect Liam Reddox and former Sharks prospect Mike Iggulden. Lulea moves on to face Frolunda on Saturday.

Prospect Season Starts Next Week

With the passing of August, the summer is on its decline, and hockey season is almost here in North America. But, in Europe, preseason games are already being played and the regular season is set to begin next week. On Thursday, slick scoring prospect Nikita Kucherov and CSKA will square off against perennial league power Magnitogorsk in their season opener in the Russian KHL. A week later, on 9/15, action starts in the Finnish SM-liiga where Riku Helenius and JYP will open against KalPa. That day also marks the start of the Swedish Elitserien where Johan Harju and Lulea will face Vaxjo.

Kval till Elitserien Game Day: 4/8/11

MODO 2 @ Sodertalje 0
Riku Helenius, Sodertalje, 24/26, 2.11 GAA, .923 sv%
Season totals: 18 GP, 4-11-0, 0 SO, 3.03 GAA, .884 sv%
Kval till Elitserien totals: 5 GP, 2-1-1, 0 SO, 1.83 GAA, .925 sv%

Former Northern Michigan netminder Tuomas Tarkki made 22 saves to lead MODO to a 2-0 shutout of Sodertalje and a spot in the Elitserien next year. Lightning prospect netminder Riku Helenius made 24 stops, but in the absence of goal support Sodertalje's fate was sealed. The club will be relegated to the Allsvenskan next year. Vaxjo moves up to the Elitserien while MODO, barely, retains their spot in Sweden's top league.

So ends the entry level contract of former first round pick Helenius. The netminder was loaned out to Sodertalje toward the end of last season with the emergence of Jaroslav Janus and he played well in earning Sodertalje's starting job in last year's Kval till Elitserien tournament. This year, however, Helenius' play tanked in the first month of the Elitserien regular season. He lost his starting job to young Pontus Sjogren and did not regain it until the final 3 games of the the Kval till Elitserien round, which may be too little, too late to earn a qualifying offer from the Lightning.

Kval till Elitserien Game Day: 4/6/11

Sodertalje 3 @ Mora 2
Riku Helenius, Sodertalje, Win, 17/19, 2.00 GAA, .895 sv%
Season totals: 18 GP, 4-11-0, 0 SO, 3.03 GAA, .884 sv%
Kval till Elitserien totals: 4 GP, 2-0-1, 0 SO, 1.72 GAA, .926 sv%

Sodertalje peppered Mora with a whopping 47 shots on goal en route to edging Mora 3-2 in their 9th game of the Kval till Elitserien. Lightning prospect Riku Helenius made 17 saves to win his second straight must-win start. Elsewhere, Vaxjo defeated Rogle 4-2 and MODO beat Orebro 4-1.

Vaxjo had already clinched a spot in the Elitserien for next season. With their loss, Rogle will stay in the Allsvenskan. That leaves MODO and Sodertalje tied at 17 points right now with MODO holding the goal differential tiebreaker at +13 to +5. That means Friday's 10th and final round of the Kval till Elitserien will feature an all out battle for all the marbles with MODO visiting Sodertalje. A win keeps the club in the Elitserien next year. A loss means relegation to the Allsvenskan. Time to find out how clutch Riku Helenius can be. Note that in the opening match of the Kval till Elitserien, Sodertalje did defeat MODO 3-2 in a shootout with Pontus Sjogren between the pipes.

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