Meet Antti Tyrvainen. There's more to him than you think. Photo courtesy of Steven Christy Photography. All rights reserved.
Antti Tyrvainen, the little agitator that could, was signed by the Edmonton Oilers in June in hopes of bringing a little toughness to the rosters deeper lines. Indeed the signing was interesting given Antti's pretty solid scoring potential, and his propensity for "mixing it up" in the general role of agitation. The week of the signing Scott Reynolds brought to words what everyone was thinking,
His 23 points in 52 games represent a decent offensive showing, especially considering that was good enough for fourth on the offensively inept HIFK (the team leader scored 33 points in 59 games).Tyrväinen 's 186 penalty minutes, meanwhile, were good enough for tops in the league by a pretty hefty margin (Jere Karalahti was second with 147). Tyrväinen also happens to be 5'10'' and just under 200 lbs. Definitely an interesting player, and he could win a spot on the Oilers fourth line as an agitator.
Indeed the expectation was that Tyrvainen would become the turbulent winger that caused heartburn for opponents with the chance of a little scoring thrown in. When you fast forward to the present, we see portions of that statement that ring true, just not the ones we anticipated.
In 34 games played, Antti Tyrvainen has turned 11 points (3 goals and 8 assists) with only 33 penalty minutes. He's averaging under a penalty a game, but has a lot of upside in his newfound direction on a very strong defensive team in Oklahoma City. For Antti, he has made the transition to North American hockey, and is quickly becoming a better, more disciplined player.
For most of the season, Antti has been featured on a fourth or third line shutdown core. With the recent move of Ryan O'Marra the team has leaned on Antti to further enhance that role. Along the way he's done so nicely while also showing us the potential for some offensive prowess. The last two games he's been perched on the right with Chris Vande Velde down the middle and Teemu Hartikainen on the left. That's one strong, no-questions-asked line in the minors. But wherever he falls on a game-by-game basis, you can count on him to finish checks and vehemently fight for the puck.
A good friend of Copper and Blue, Patricia at Artful Puck, continues her series on Oklahoma hockey history by gleaming a little light on just who Antti Tyrvainen is as a player as well as a North American newcomer. If you've read her incredibly insightful interviews before, you'll no doubt want to read this interview in its entirety. Nonetheless, here are some of the great quotes from that interview with Antti.
Any question as to whom Antti models his game after need to be pointed towards a few of his favorite players.
Tyrväinen: I think one Finnish player, Jarkko Ruutu. He played many seasons here and many games. And his other brother, Tuomo Ruutu. They play hard, sometimes going inside other guys heads. I like those guys.
About those penalty minutes and seemingly angsty play in Finland.
I think it is different in Finland. If you hit there hard, the referees always give you 5 plus 20. Here if you get a minor, it is 2 plus 10, or something like that, and in Finland, it is 5 plus 20.
I think it comes from when I was young. My dad was telling me you always have to play with a good attitude. You have to be the best player. Keep everything you have on the ice.
Of course, that's why they signed me. I'm going to play my own game and be aggressive and get under the guys. It is just my style of play. I'm not going to stop that.
I like to hit, hit hard, so I definitely fight. Some goals, passing, just be good in the defensive zone and of course, the offensive zone. But I think my role is just the forward line guy, always hitting and good defense, and a goal sometimes. That is my role.
But we've seen a more disciplined style from Antti this season. Agressive player? For sure. Wildly punishing? Anything but. Antti honestly points out the off-ice aspect of signing in North America.
I don't know. I think maybe one thing was that mentally I was all alone here. I was missing home so much all the time. It was so hard for me. I had always been in my home town, playing there so all of my buddies were there, I had no one here. And my language wasn't so good. I think that was one of the reasons why my game wasn't so good. But it is going better and better now.
And Antti sheds a little bit of light on that whole zamboni video that fans in Oklahoma City seemingly can't get enough of. What is actually happening in this video? We want to know.
I'm not going to tell! It's a secret! [laughing] You have to think about it yourself. It's a secret! [laughing] Fake or truth. It was fun to do it. So much fun! I enjoyed it so much!
It's always the quiet, shy, gourmet friendly players that are the most intense on the ice. Tyrvainen is certainly no different.
I like to cook!
My favorite is meatballs and mashed potatoes. It is very good. I'm going to do it today.
And what about the transition from Finland to...Oklahoma City, Oklahoma?
We live downtown [in OKC], with Teemu Hartikainen in the same building. In Finland in downtown you would have shops, grocery shops, malls, everything, but here downtown there is nothing [like that]. We don't have a car here and the mall is quite far away to a grocery store so I think that is the biggest thing for us. Now it is going well. I know the other guys on our team and I can borrow a car and go to the grocery store and mall. I think that has been the biggest thing. Of course, I'm missing home a lot - my parents and friends.
And how is the relationship with fellow countryman Teemu Hartikainen?
Yes, that was so good when I came here last year. Teemu arrived the week after me and we found an apartment together. He was helping me a lot, so that was a big help to me. He knew the place and it was very good.
Antti Tyrvainen is a whirlwind player with some positive sides both defensively and offensively. He's having a North American rookie season that is quite exceptional given both his role and his leap into the middle of the US. As steady fan favorite on the farm, Antti has a few more things to prove. Can he continue to harness that agitation and allow it to become a integral part of any team that he's on? I have no doubt that he'll continue to do so. Antti Tyrvainen is one to keep an eye on both by Oilers fans as well as those in Oklahoma City.