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Getting to know Riku Helenius

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

How long have you been playing goalie?

I started playing hockey when I was seven, and after my first year, I began to play goalie. So probably when I was around eight years old. I always liked being a goalie, and plus their gear looked so awesome. I also wasn’t that great of a skater which is one of the reasons I switched to goalie after a year, and it has turned out very beneficial to me.

Do you like to mirror you game after any certain goaltender?

I don’t really know. A lot of NHL goalies seem to play the same way. I kind of have my own style I’d say.

During a game, what is going on in your head while play is at the other end of the ice?

I try to just think about the next situation that comes down to my end. That is how I feel like I stay in the game. I just try to stay focused and see what is developing at all times, even if the play is down at the other end.

What is the biggest difference between the United States and Finland?

The United States is a lot bigger than Finland. There is so much to see here in the States that you don’t have to really travel out of the country. The weather here is different everywhere. Like if you want cold weather you can go to Denver, but if you want hot weather you can go to Florida. So with all the sites and different weather you never have to travel out of the country unlike back home. Every state has its own story. Syracuse is not that much different from back home in Finland though.

Would you rather vacation at the beach or the mountains?

Definitely the beach. I am not a big skier or snowboarder so I would have to go with the beach. It doesn’t get much better than a nice day on the beach.

What is your favorite movie?

The Shawshank Redemption. However, I love all the Will Ferrell movies. I love the way he acts, but if I had to pick one movie it would be The Shawshank Redemption.

What is your biggest fear or phobia?

I do not necessarily have any phobias. I’m not really scared of them, but I do not like snakes and bugs at all.

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

Freddie Mercury, the lead singer for Queen, for sure. I never had a chance to see Queen live before he died, but it would be pretty cool to sit down with him and have dinner with him and get to talk to him.

If you could play another sport professionally, what would it be?

I would play football in the NFL. I have never played football before, but I love watching the games. It is a great sport and a lot of people love it here in the States.

Do you have any pregame superstitions?

I have done the same stretch for the past two years, but I am really not superstitious. I just focus on getting my body ready before I hit the ice, but nothing too crazy like some of the other guys.

What is your favorite thing to do when you get home from the rink?

Just lying down on the coach and watching a movie or TV show. Sometimes I like to Skype with my friends and family back home. I just like to relax when I get home from the rink for the most part.

In a shootout, which one of your teammates would you rather not face?

I would have to say Eric Neilson. I do not think I could guess what he was going to do. That guy can surprise you in so many ways.

Which one of your Syracuse teammates believes they could be a professional singer?

Eric Neilson again. He is pretty good with the guitar and he sings a lot. He sings pretty loud too at times. I think it would be his childhood dream if he didn’t play hockey.

What music do you like to listen to?

I like all the music, but when I played junior hockey in Seattle there were a lot of Western Canadian guys. They all loved country music, so I am a big country music fan. I also like Queen and AC/DC.

Do you have any nicknames?

The guys here call me “Riks,” but in Finland they call me “Helge.” All my friends back home call me that rather than Riku.

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