Forward Otto Somppi is garnering plenty of attention these days after joining his new team on the ice at Cole Harbour Place. The 17-year-old from Finland will fill an import player roster spot with the Halifax Mooseheads along with San Jose Sharks prospect Timo Meier.
Somppi was selected by the Mooseheads with the 18th overall pick in June’s CHL Import Draft after playing 38 games with the Jokerit U20 SuperElit team last season.
“Thank you so much, I’m really excited to be here and play with the Mooseheads,” said the smiling Somppi following Thursday morning’s practice.
The 17-year-old has been busy this summer playing for Finland at the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in Slovakia. He scored one goal and two assists and helped his team reach the semi-finals.
“Yeah, it was a great tournament it was good hockey but we lost to Sweden in the end.”
Somppi arrived in Halifax early in the overnight hours of Wednesday morning and was on the ice a few hours later with his new teammates.
“It’s been good I am a bit tired but it’s fun and I’m happy to play here.”
He admits it’s tough to leave his family behind on the other side of the world but thinks playing in the QMJHL will be beneficial to his game.
“Oh of course it’s tough to say goodbye to them but I’m really just excited to be with the team.”
He describes himself as someone with offensive talent but he is dedicated to playing a two-way style of game. The Helsinki native picked up 14 penalty minutes in five games at the Hlinka Memorial.
There are 18 forwards, 11 defencemen and two goaltenders remaining at Mooseheads training camp.
General Manager Cam Russell thinks the competition has been fierce over the past two weeks at Cole Harbour Place.
“It’s probably the closest camp we’ve ever had,” he said.
“There’s been no disappointments and there’s been lots of surprises so it’s made some of our decisions very difficult, but at the same time it’s exciting to see all the young talent here.”
While Somppi is guaranteed a spot on the 2015-2016 Mooseheads, the rest of the players fighting for a spot on opening night will have a chance to show the coaches what they can bring to the table when Halifax hosts Charlottetown in preseason action on Saturday night at 7pm in Truro. The Herd will also visit the Screaming Eagles on Sunday afternoon at 4pm.
Tickets for Saturday’s game in Truro are on sale now and can be purchased at the R.E.C.C box office or Ticketpro.ca. A limited number are also available at the Mooseheads Season Ticket office at Scotiabank Centre for $10 plus applicable service charges.