When Petteri Nokelainen was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on November 4th, he hoped to bring “some fresh air and new energy” into Boston’s hockey club.
After several tough divisional match ups, it's clear that he’s managed to do just that.
“I think he certainly skates hard (and) goes into the corners," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien, "He’s not afraid to battle, and that’s what the Bruins are looking for.”
And if they haven’t already, it’s time for Bruins fans to start learning about #56 for the Black & Gold.
Born in Eastern Finland, in a town called Imatra, Petteri Nokelainen first took to hockey at the age of seven after his dad took him to a practice. As he grew, his role models were Finnish hockey players like Saku Koivu and Teemu Selänne, but he says that his dad was always his “biggest role model, for sure.”
Petteri got his start playing for SaiPa Lappeenranta, where he tallied 20 goals in 94 games from 2002-2005. In 2004, he led the World U-18 Tournament scoring with five goals and six assists. As the 16th overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Petteri arrived in North America to play for the New York Islanders during the 2005-2006 season, notched one goal and one assist.
His season was cut short when he suffered a devastating knee injury.
“It was a tough, tough injury," said Petteri. "It took me almost two years to get better.
"I had surgery and missed almost twelve months of hockey.
"It was a tough time,” said Nokelainen.
Times are better for the Finn.
Asked what the biggest difference between Finland and the United States is, Petteri responded, “Hockey is always the same wherever you go, but there’s something different in the lifestyle outside of hockey.
"It’s a little faster paced [in the U.S.]. People work hard; it sometimes feels like it’s work, work, work. Back home, it’s a little more laid back.”
But, Petteri’s adjusted to the American way of life. Like many of his contemporaries he enjoys music by Dave Matthews Band, Lenny Kravitz, and Jack Johnson; his favorite TV show is Entourage
; and in his spare time, he likes to “read, watch movies, and hang out with the guys."
One of those guys happens to be recent P-Bruins teammate and current roommate, Tuukka Rask
The two met while they played for Team Finland in the 2005 World Junior Championship and Tuukka discloses that he’s the messy one of the pair, while Petteri “likes to keep the house clean."
When it comes to decorating their abode, Tuukka reveals that they’re going for a minimalist approach.
“There’s nothing on the walls. We have to buy something actually like paint and stuff, but nothing yet.”
And when asked about Petteri’s cooking abilities, Tuukka replies frankly, “I can’t say he’s too good, but he’s ok.”
Getting serious, Tuukka had only good things to say about Petteri (despite his questionable cooking skills) and describes Nokelainen as someone with a good sense of humor, who likes to have fun.
But he also added that, “He’s a really mature guy. His feet are on the ground."
What really seems to stand out about Petteri is his spirit on the ice and love of the sport.
When asked what the most rewarding part of his job is, Petteri said, “It's probably that you get to enjoy it everyday.
I haven’t felt like I’m working...You’re just having fun and you’re getting paid.
"And what’s better than that?”
Not much Petteri. Not much at all.