After a promising first season on the Phantoms last year, Joonas Lehtivuori seemed to struggle this season. Many were surprised to see one of the best defensemen on the team to become a healthy scratch relatively quickly.
Lehtivuori offers a few reasons for the downhill.
"We had ten rookies on the team at best. We won like two games from the first twenty. You're pretty down after that."
The struggles with confidence weren't the only reason.
"They switched coaches and my ice time started going down. We played old time hockey where we just dumped and chased. That's not the kind of hockey that highlights my strengths."
To make matters worse, Lehtivuori didn't enjoy the life off the ice either. Glens Falls doesn't get much praise from the young defenseman.
"To be completely honest, the town was just awful which made it tough sometimes. I spent my time on the computer a lot, just reading news online. There wasn't much else in life than hockey."
"It's just my luck that the Flyers would move their AHL affiliate away from Philadelphia as soon as I sign a contract with them", Lehtivuori adds with irony in his laughter.
After a rough season with the Phantoms, Lehtivuori admits he was just happy to get away from Glens Falls and sign with Kalpa in Finland. Now he intends to get his lost confidence back and play by using his strengths again.
"I think skating, hockey sense and puck moving are my strengths. I like to support the offense."
Though the move to Finland didn't look like it came as a huge surprise considering how things had gone, Lehtivuori says it all happened fast and unexpected nonetheless.
"My girlfriend came to Glens Falls just a week ago, so the move to Finland definitely came as a surprise."
Once titled "the young Kimmo Timonen", Lehtivuori isn't sure what the future holds for him. He isn't even sure about the comparison to the Flyers #44.
"I wonder who came up with that comparison", he says, not sounding all that thrilled.
This report was based off of a Finnish-language story in the publication Yle Savo.