- 2019-03-05 at HPK - TPS, Liiga by Antti Wennström
The undrafted 20-year old winger has been one of the biggest surprise stories of the whole Finnish league season. After scoring three and four goals during his first two seasons of pro hockey, Innala has scored a magnificent 24 goals (report of the game added on 11th of March) during his third and first full season. Only teenage superstars like Aleksander Barkov and Sebastian Aho have scored on a higher goals per game ratio than him, when younger than Innala.
The biggest reason for his success, according to his coaches, is the turnaround in his workout and practice motivation. Innala started taking extra training to improve in 2018-19 during spring 2018, and that has really paid off.
Already a quick skater, especially for his first few steps, his skating seems even better than last season. That, along with improved overall strength and stamina, has improved his ability to battle for the pucks and steal the puck. For his first two pro seasons, his defensive ability was a real weakness, as Innala seemed to wander out of his position all the time. It still isn’t one of his strenghts, but thanks to better stamina he can keep the level of his play higher on both ends of the rink. He doesn’t seem to lose his ability to see the game around him in high speed, and that sure is a good thing for him.
Against TPS, Innala along with his whole team, was patient when the opponent had the puck and was able to check his opponents on the offensively. There were a few nice takeaways of near takeaways in the own end, that almost led to scoring plays starting from the own end of the rink. Innala played powerplay too. In the third period his tireless skating paid off, as he scored a real highlight goal, starting from the back of the TPS net, skating to the blue line, then lending the puck to his teammate before getting it back and scoring. The goal ended up being the GWG.
The funny thing is, his shot isn’t the most impressive there is, but thanks to his improved overall play Innala is getting into scoring situations all the time, and driving to the danger area much more than before, which has led into shooting a lot and finally finding his scoring touch. Innala only scored three goals in his first 22 games, but was already shooting and skating like never before. After that he has 21 goals in 37 games.
Could Innala become a NHL player? In my opinion, he still should improve on his strength and defensive play to be able to succeed on lower lines as well as scoring lines. His feet look like the feet of a terrific penalty killer, something he hasn’t been before. The good thing is he still seems to have room and willingess to become even better.
- 2018-01-02 at Finland - Czech Republic, WJC by Asko Huuki
Innala got bit over ten minutes of ice time as third line winger in the quarterfinals against Czech Republic. He was pointless in the tournament but he had couple of quality scoring chances against the Czechs, one of which probably would have been winning goal if he would have succeeded.
Offensively Innala didn’t have that much to give. His passing game was not enough for this level of play, he didn’t show great stickhandling skills, his shot seemed to be average at best and his vision with the puck was not sufficient. However he made things happen with his energetic play. He showed great work ethic and tried his best in every situation.
Winger is pretty short player and despite not being necessary small, his size caused some occasional problems in physical play. However he compensates that area of game with his great skating. He was one of the quickest Finns and his overall mobility and agility looked impressive. Overall Innala does not look like a player with much offensive potential but he could become pretty good player for more checking role.
Player statistics powered by www.eliteprospects.com
|2012-2013||KOOVEE U16||Jr. C Suomi-sarja||2||1||1||2||0||||
|2013-2014||HPK U16||Jr. C SM-sarja Q||10||5||3||8||10||||
|HPK U16||Jr. C SM-sarja||31||21||19||40||24||||
|2014-2015||HPK U17||Jr. B2 SM-sarja||15||16||10||26||14||||
|HPK U18||Jr. B SM-sarja||33||7||5||12||4|||||Playoffs||1||0||0||0||0|
|2015-2016||HPK U18||Jr. B SM-sarja||15||15||9||24||8|||||Playoffs||2||1||0||1||2|
|HPK U20||Jr. A SM-liiga||40||18||17||35||20|||||Playoffs||7||0||1||1||4|
|2016-2017||HPK U20||Jr. A SM-liiga||32||17||14||31||24|||||Playoffs||9||3||2||5||4|
|Finland U20 (all)||International-Jr||7||6||2||8||4||||
|2017-2018||HPK U20||Jr. A SM-liiga||0||0||0||0||0|||||Playoffs||5||0||3||3||0|
|Finland U20 (all)||International-Jr||16||3||2||5||4||||
Player statistics © www.eliteprospects.com