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Canucks’ prospect Jonathan Lekkerimäki grabs late assist to send Örebro to the SHL playoffs

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Photo credit:@orebrohockey on IG
Dave Hall
30 days ago
Jonathan Lekkerimäki’s SHL season lives to see another day.
Following a tense 3-2 shootout victory, Örebro has secured the 10th and final spot in the SHL playoffs.
After four consecutive losses, the club slid from a comfortable playoff position to one point on the outside looking in. As they entered the final day of the regular season, it was a do-or-die scenario.
Their postseason hopes depended not only on their own performance but also on the outcome of another club battling for a playoff berth.
If MoDo, a team with strong ties to various Canuck legends, won, Lekkerimäki’s season was over. If Örebro lost, Lekkerimäki’s season is over.
The club’s chances felt heavily reliant on the 19-year-old’s performance. Leading up to the game, Örebro had a record of 5-1-1 over their last 12 games when the sharpshooter scored at least a goal, but winless (0-5) when he failed to find the back of the net, with four of those losses occurring in their recent stretch.
 
The opening period was quite one-sided, with Örebro heavily outshooting their opponents 11-4. However, despite their dominance, they found themselves trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes, with Lekkerimäki not contributing any shots.
The second period saw much more action, with Örebro tying the game up early on the power play.
Lekkerimäki was on the ice but wasn’t directly involved in the goal. However, his mere presence on the ice tends to have its effects. In addition to his powerful release, having the 19-year-old stationed in his office at the top of the left-side circle forces the goaltender to respect the shot at all times, which in turn makes the right side available to make plays.
Midway through the period, the Canucks’ product was involved in a scary incident that had the arena holding its breath.
Off the back check, Lekkerimäki was bumped off his feet and went crashing into the post and boards. He was down on the ice for several minutes before slowly heading back to the bench in obvious discomfort.
Luckily, he was able to skate off under his own power and didn’t miss a shift. In fact, he was part of his team nearly breaking the tie to go ahead by one on that next shift.
His team would concede a late-period goal, and head into the dressing room 2-1 with their playoff hopes hanging on to one last strong 20-minute effort.
Like in each period before, Örebro continued to press hard, outshooting and outchancing their opponents, but they couldn’t solve Linköping’s netminder.
Then, with the goalie pulled and the game on the line, the club won a crucial face-off to kickstart their offensive zone pressure.
The puck found its way to the hands of Lekkerimäki, stationed at the blue line, and he snapped a shot toward the net, which deflected off a skate and lay there for Glenn Gustafsson, who buried the goal to tie the game late and sent it into overtime.
Meanwhile, there was another crucial element unfolding. Over in MoDo, who could deflate all of this entire scenario with a single win, had just lost their game, failing to secure two points.
With that, all Örebro needed was one point.
With no goals in overtime, Örebro would go on to secure the victory and take home the victory in a shootout, punching their ticket to the playoffs–Lekkerimäki failed to score in his only attempt.
As the 10th-placed team, they will take on Luleå (7th) in a best-of-three playoff round, which begins on Thursday, March 14. The winner will advance to a best-of-seven quarterfinal round.
After a disappointing draft-plus-one season, Lekkerimäki enjoyed a stellar bounce-back year, which included the following:
  • 19 goals – led all U24 skaters
  • 31 points – second among U24 skaters (led U23)
  • Seven game-winning goals – third in SHL
  • 12 even-strength goals – fifth in SHL
  • Six power play goals – fifth in SHL
  • 52% CF% – third on team
  • Two MVPs – World Juniors, Club
In other SHL news, Lucas Forsell and his top-ranked club team, Farjastad, receive an automatic bye and will await their opponent in the quarterfinals.

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