This week’s interview is with Hamilton Pistols G Lasse Koskinen.
SHL Digest: This week, we’re talking to the starting netminder of the defending SHL champs, Lasse Koskinen. Lasse, thanks for speaking with us.
Lasse Koskinen: Sure, I am happy to.
SHLD: As we mentioned in the intro, your Hamilton Pistols won the Vandy last year. This season, you’re in the middle of a tight Eastern race, trying to go back-to-back. Which do you think is harder: winning a championship, or defending one?
LK: Hard to say. Both are challenging, but in a different way. When you are trying to win the first time, you are very driven; you give everything to win. But maybe you doubt sometimes when you struggle: are you really good enough?
SHLD: Especially if you’re playing a team like Anchorage, which has been to so many Finals. They’ve done it all before.
LK: Exactly. Now when you win, you have confidence, because you know you can do it. But maybe the drive is not there as much. Also, when you go far in the playoffs, it is very hard, and the offseason is shorter. So you are a bit exhausted. I think maybe it is harder to repeat.
SHLD: Yeah, there’s probably a reason why there hasn’t been a back-to-back SHL champion yet.
LK: Yes. It’s so hard to win it even one time. Two in a row… it must be very special.
SHLD: You’re struggling a bit to start the season. Do you think that championship fatigue is the reason?
LK: No. That is an excuse. I believe I am not seeing the puck as well as I can be. I am working with the coaches and in practice to improve this and to improve the mental game.
SHLD: Makes sense. One opponent has given you particular trouble: the New York Night.
LK: Yes, they have a lot of offense.
SHLD: And they’ve been giving offense to your team and your fans. You’ve had a couple wild games against them already this season. Some are calling it the SHL’s greatest rivalry. Does it feel that way to you?
LK: Oh yes, very much. We don’t like them at all.
SHLD: That’s certainly how it looks when you play! There’s definitely a grudge there.
LK: Yes. We are very happy when we win and shut them up. Although truthfully, they never shut up.
SHLD: Fair point. Let’s switch gears a bit. You’re now in your fourth season with the Pistols, and your fourth year in North America. How are you liking it here?
LK: I like it very much. I like Hamilton and Toronto very much; it is very beautiful, very clean. And the fans are wonderful. The only think I did not like was that when I came, people kept telling me I was a dog.
SHLD: Because of your name?
LK: Yes. Lasse is a very common name in Finland, which is my country, and all of Scandinavia. But in America and Canada, apparently the only Lassie is the TV show dog.
SHLD: That must have been annoying.
LK: Oh yes, very much. On the road, fans would be yelling “Lasse, go home!” Or they would tell me that Timmy had fallen down the well. In my head I said, “Who is Timmy? I don’t even know him.”
SHLD: Have you ever actually seen the “Lassie” TV show?
LK: My teammates found it for me on YouTube, and I watched it. I thought it was pretty stupid.
SHLD: Now that you’ve been in the league a while, do you still hear those jokes?
LK: Sometimes, if fans of other teams are making fun. But not very much. Now that I am in the league for a long time, people know me, and my name is not so weird.
SHLD: That’s good! That about wraps it up for us. Thanks for a very interesting interview, and good luck the rest of the season!
LK: Thank you. I very much hope to improve.