MADISON, WI – #3 Minnesota showed no mercy as they took advantage of #6 Helsinki’s penalty issues early on, resulting in a highly lopsided game. Mounting an early lead and never looking back, the great wall of St. Paul appeared on point with their well-known defense, while Helsinki showed promise and tenacity.
Ultimately, the Finns couldn’t mount a comeback as their jammers were boxed repeatedly and Minnesota’s patience and experience were palpable as Helsinki were dismantled to the effect of 337-109.
The first period started neutrally enough as Minnesota’s Brickyard (a transfer from Arch Rival) put up a close 4-3 over Helsinki’s highest scorer of the game, Mad Malooney. The closeness in score was short-lived as Jacked Pipes (MNRG) subsequently went on a 26-0 run over boxed Maiju Rinne, amid a spiral of blocker penalties.
After several jams of Helsinki showing control over stymied Minnesota jammers, jam eight converted a lead call for Helsinki’s MIA into three jammer penalties in the same jam, as Lapitsky did work to end the jam at a 9-5 advantage. Helsinki continued to accrue fouls as Minnesota padded their lead to 137-48 late in the period.
In the second to last jam of the half, Mad Malooney was able to post Helsinki’s largest scoring single jam with an 18-4 run over Lapitsky, while the period closed with both teams’ jammers boxed, resulting in a 155-69 after 30 minutes.
With Minnesota favoring a flat back wall on the jam start, it was clear their defense, led by Second Hand Smoke, was not going to be caught sleeping on the lines as they forced jammer cut after jammer cut; 9 versus their 3 in the first half alone.
Helsinki demonstrated strong defensive recycling and speed control when penalties weren’t an issue, and were impressive in several jams when faced with defending against their many power jams. Lead status was fairly evenly split, with MNRG obtaining such 52% of the time, compared to Helsinki’s 42%. While Helsinki’s defensive formation was flexible and able to lock down their opponents, ultimately their lack of a jammer in almost half the period was a clear issue.
Period 2 didn’t fare much better for the Finns. Beyond the first jam, when Mad Malooney scored 8-0 over Brickyard (boxed on a low block), Minnesota held them scoreless for the next seven jams while posting several double-digit scoring runs; a result of more jammer penalties for their opponents.
Pushing their score to 235, Minnesota allowed a single point scored against them in jam 9 when Mad Malooney raced into the pack as Jacked Pipes was calling the jam. As Helsinki continued to bleed points, they also lost jammer Taru Saxelin and blocker Dominå F. Äkt to foul outs by the middle of the second period.
Despite a few bright spots in the last ten minutes, when Helsinki jammers Maiju Rinne and Mad Malooney ended their scoring drought with an 8-6 and 5-0 respectively, Minnesota finished the game comfortably with a 337-109, final.
Top scorers for each squad were Jacked Pipes for Minnesota, netting 103 points over 10 jams, compared to Helsinki’s Mad Malooney who contributed 40 points over 10 jams. Defensively speaking, Second Hand Smoke’s unrelenting line work and recycling combined with pack efforts of Hertrude Stein and Polly Punchkin led the Minnesota defense as Dominå F. Äkt and Vega locked down their opponents. While Minnesota didn’t experience any foul-outs, Second Hand Smoke ended with six. Helsinki accrued an unfortunate 17 jammer penalties to their total 39, while Minnesota gave up six power jams and a total of 22 box trips.
Minnesota advances to take on the winner of game 6 at 8pm CDT on Saturday September 24, while Helsinki drops to the consolation bracket to face Ohio at 10am CDT.