Finland: Maple Bowl XL – Championship Rematch – Helsinki Roosters v. Kuopio Steelers

The 11-2 Helsinki Roosters and 10-3 Kuopio Steelers square off for the second year in a row in Maple Bowl XL, the Finnish championship game, Saturday, September 14.

The Roosters return to the Maple Bowl for the ninth time in 12 years. Helsinki has won 21 Finnish titles, and the last seven in a row. Kuopio has now advanced to the league final for the second straight season. Helsinki defeated the Steelers in the 2018 Maple Bowl 44-14.

The two teams have faced each other twice during the regular season with Kuopio winning both. That is a little deceiving though. Although the first game was the season opener for the league and the Steelers won 57-41, the second, a Kuopio 20-14 victory, was played without some of the Roosters starters including starting quarterback Mira Kadmiry and multi-talented Adam Connette.

They all returned the following week for the semifinal win over the Seinäjoki Crocodiles.

Kadmiry, who was the second leading passer in the league, threw for 251 yards and four touchdowns in the first game against Kuopio with Connette catching 7 for 103 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 83 yards and another touchdown as well. Wide receiver Nnamdi Agude was decidedly quiet in the season opener but on the year caught 58 passes for 995 yards and a league-best 23 touchdowns.Another deadly weapon at the Roosters disposal is running back Karri Parjaninen who averaged 106 yards rushing a game in his eight games.

Kuopio boasts the best defense in yards allowed giving up 333.8 yards a game with Helsinki right behind at 335.4.  The Helsinki offense  scored the most points during the season averaging 44.4 a game while the Steelers were second at 40.8.

Roosters head coach Mikko Koikkalanen

What is the mindset of the team heading into this game?

We are focused and ready to play. It has been a long season but our players have been working hard all the time and are ready to show what they have.

How had your preparation been knowing that you are playing the Steelers for the 2nd year ina row in the title game?

We have prepared like we have for every game. We do the same amount of prep no matter who we play. The Steelers are a very, very good team and it will require our very best to come out with a victory.

What would it mean to your club to win the Finnish title this year?

Winning the championship is always our goal so  of course it would mean a lot for us to win. We are playing with a Finnish quarterback this season, MIro Kadmiry, and he has had a great season. Because of that, it would also feel extra special because it would show you can win with a national quarterback.

The Steelers entered last year’s game just happy to be there but this year’s squad has a different attitude and new additions who can make a difference.

Running back Gerard Johnson is one and he is a key. He has rushed for 1,322 yards and a league-leading 27 touchdowns. Quarterback Seth Peters has been solid throwing for 2,669 yards and 31 touchdowns.

The Steelers defense is anchored by linebackers Donavan Hayden and Mattias Eriksson who are #1 and #2 in tackles with Hayden averaging 9.9 a game and Eriksson 8.9..

Steelers HC Pekka Utriainen:

What is the mindset of the team heading into this game?

Our mindset is really all about doing our own jobs and continuing to be a team. We have faced some adversity this season, like every team does, and we have come through those as a stronger, more unified team.

How had your preparation been knowing that you are playing the Steelers for the 2nd year ina row in the title game?

Our preparation is what it always is, not really much different than going into any other game. Last year’s experience is really a big difference in comparison making it much easier to just focus on working our game plan and staying true to our good practice habits.

What would it mean to your club to win the Finnish title this year?

We have been working on this project so to speak, for the past five years now, going up from the lower divisions to get to this point. A win on Saturday would make all our efforts worthwhile and I truly feel that our players have been working so hard for years now that they definitely have earned themselves a victory.

 

 

AFI
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