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Future Watch: Teemu Hartikainen

by Bob Hersom / Edmonton Oilers
Teemu Hartikainen cuts through the Houston Aeros defence. (Photo by Steve Christy / Oklahoma City Barons)

The Oklahoma City Barons knew they were getting a good and gritty left winger when Teemu Hartikainen - a Finnish Army veteran - was assigned to the new American Hockey League club.

But then the season started and, well, Who knew?

In game one, Hartikainen scored the first goal in the Barons’ history. It came on a breakaway set up by an outlet pass from center Brad Moran and finished by Hartikainen’s nifty stick handling near the net.

“It’s like one of my special moves I can do,” Hartikainen said. “I practice it almost every day. It’s easy when you know what you do before you go out and do it. I go backhand and then forehand.”

In game two, the following day, Hartikainen scored the second goal in the Barons’ history, putting back a rebound in front of the goal.

Two games into the AHL season, on a team featuring noted goal scorers Alexandre Giroux, Brad Moran and Linus Omark, rookie Hartikainen was the only Baron who had scored.

“I was surprised that I was the only one,” Hartikainen said. “We have a lot of other guys who can score a lot of goals.”

The past two years Hartikainen played in the Finland National League, scoring 17 goals as a rookie and 15 last season - 32 goals in 104 games. He was the pro league’s rookie of the year in 2009.

Hartkikainen was far better last season than his statistics (33 points in 53 games) show. He was busy as a soldier.

He served the mandatory six months in the Finnish Army last year, in the spring, summer and fall. The difference in his stats while in the Army, and after he got out, are startling:

Teemu Hartikainen is looking to establish himself in the Oilers organization in his first season in North America. (Photo by Steve Christy / Oklahoma City Barons).

This year he’s making another adjustment, from the big rinks and slower pace in Finland to the smaller rinks and more physical play in the United States and Canada.

“It’s a little bit harder to score in Finland than it is here,” Hartikainen said, “because you don’t have as much of a chance to score the goals there. It’s like a different game.

“Here, you have more of a chance to score. It’s smaller ice and there’s more traffic in front of the net. In Finland the ice is so big, it’s like huge.”

Though Hartikainen played professionally in his native Finland, he is a considered a rookie in the AHL because his pro seasons in Finland came while he had major-junior eligibility in North America. He turned 20 in May.

“We knew he was going to be a good two-way winger who would provide some grit,” Barons coach Todd Nelson said. “He plays well in the corners. He goes to the danger areas. And he’s getting rewarded for it. He’s going there and he’s hungry and he’s producing.”

Hartikainen, a strapping 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, is the No. 6-rated Edmonton Oilers prospect by The Hockey News.

Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini told the Edmonton Journal that Hartikainen has “got some qualities that grab your attention, just in that he’s tough to move from the hard areas in front of the net.”

Hartikainen was Finland’s best player in the past two World Junior Championships. He was Edmonton’s sixth-round draft choice in 2008, the 163rd player taken.

And now he’s in his first season in the AHL, adjusting to the higher caliber of hockey.

“It’s so much more difficult here,” Hartikainen said. “There are bigger guys and it’s a faster game. The ice is so much smaller and the players are so much faster.

“The power play is so much different. We have passing tactics and things like that. There, it’s like shoot, shoot, and it’s a lot different.”

This year, everything’s a lot different for Teemu Hartikainen, a year removed from his days as a soldier in the Army of Finland.

NOTES: Hartikainen has some every-game rituals. He wears number 35, usually a goaltender’s number, because he was born on the third day of the fifth month. He has three lines of white tape on his hockey sticks. And he never takes a slapshot during pre-game warmups.

Hartikainen’s first Barons came on a line with center Chris VandeVelde and right wing Colin McDonald. His second goal came on a line with center Milan Kytner and right wing Ben Ondrus.

Click here for past Future Watch articles

Author: Bob Hersom |


Name Age GP G A PTS PIM Team
Cameron Abney   19 11 3 1 4 9 Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Alexander Bumagin   23 4 1 1 2 0 Novokuznetsk (KHL)
Philippe Cornet   20 6 0 1 1 0 Oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Drew Czerwonka   18 10 4 2 6 13 kootenay ice (WHL)
Alexandre Giroux   29 6 3 4 7 16 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Curtis Hamilton   19 10 4 8 12 6 saskatoon blades (whl)
Teemu Hartikainen   20 6 3 0 3 2 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Kellen Jones   20 3 0 3 3 4 quinnipiac university (ecac)
Milan Kytnar   21 5 0 2 2 2 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Anton Lander   19 12 2 3 5 12 timra ik (sel)
Matt Marquardt   23 4 0 1 1 2 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ryan Martindale   18 9 6 5 11 10 ottawa 67's (ohl)
Brad Moran   31 6 3 4 7 0 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ryan O'Marra   23 6 0 2 2 11 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Linus Omark   23 6 2 1 3 16 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ben Ondrus   28 6 0 1 1 12 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Kristians Pelss   18 10 1 1 2 8 edmonton oil kings
Tyler Pitlick   19 7 3 5 8 2 medicine hat tigets (whl)
Toni Rajala   19 9 2 4 6 0 ilves tampere (fnl)
Liam Reddox   24 6 2 1 3 0 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Gregory Stewart   24 2 0 0 0 4 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Chris Vande Velde   23 6 1 1 2 2 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Name Age GP G A PTS PIM Team
Shawn Belle   25 6 1 6 7 15 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Jordan Bendfeld   22 1 0 0 0 0 Stockton thunder (echl)
Kyle Bigos   21 2 0 1 1 2 merrimack college (h-east)
Jeremie Blain   18 2 0 1 1 2 acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)
Taylor Chorney   23 6 0 1 1 6 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Brandon Davidson   19 10 1 6 7 9 regina pats (whl)
Troy Hesketh   19 6 0 0 0 14 chicago steel (ushl)
Martin Marincin   18 10 4 6 10 21 prince george cougars (whl)
Johan Motin   21 3 0 0 0 7 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Richard Petiot   28 6 0 4 4 4 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Jeff Petry   23 6 1 2 3 2 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Alex Plante   21 6 0 0 0 17 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Name Age GP W L T SO GAA PCT Team
Tyler Bunz   18 4 2 2 0 0 3.04 .894 medicine hat tigers (whl)
Martin Gerber   36 5 2 3 0 0 2.56 .913 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Bryan Pitton   22 1 1 0 0 0 2.01 .935 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Olivier Roy   19 7 4 3 0 0 2.64 .913 acadie-bathhurst titan (qmjhl)
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