Sport A talent that knows no boundaries (new-deutschland.de)

A talent that knows no boundaries (new-deutschland.de)

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18-year-old Kaapo Kakko (left) dreams of Finland. Here he prevailed against the Slovak Christian Jaros and scored the 4-2 final score.

18-year-old Kaapo Kakko (left) dreams of Finland. Here he prevailed against the Slovak Christian Jaros and scored the 4-2 final score.

Photo: AFP / Joe Klamar

Actually, the role of the top player in the Ice Hockey World Championship was intended for someone like Alexander Ovetshkin. The 33-year-old Russian world-class player has stayed behind in Slovakia so far. Fans and experts are fascinated by an 18 year old Finn called Kaapo Kakko after the first three games. "There are not many players in the world like him. If he has the puck, he has no limits, "enthused Finland coach Jukka Jalonen euphorically.

With five goals in the first two games alone, Europe's biggest talent of the 2001 season has been the biggest championship attraction so far, despite some 100 more or less defeated NHL players, including world stars like Owetschkin, Sweden goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist, US striker Patrick Kane or the German attacker Leon Draisaitl. In the 2: 3 after extra time on Monday against the United States went Kakko for the first time empty, a feast for the eyes was his game nonetheless. In the much-anticipated duel with US striker Jack Hughes, Kakko was once again the clear-cut player.

With Hughes, who turned 18 on Tuesday, Kakko will probably be back in Vancouver at the end of June. The so-called draft of the North American professional league NHL is about which team guarantees the rights to which player: Hughes or Kakko. Both players are the world's best of their year. The first right of access is the New Jersey Devils, followed by the New York Rangers. So far, it was considered likely that Hughes will be selected first by the Devils. But given the balance of power on the ice at the current World Cup could be a rethink. Hughes plays his age according to his age rather unremarkable among men. Kakko can not really say that.

German striker Patrick Hager was startled at the beginning of September when he played with EHC München in the Champions League against TPS Turku. In the Finns ran the then 17-year-old Kakko with the grid protection of underage players, but acted already like a seasoned professional. "It was amazing how far such a young player can be," Hager said.

In that 5: 3 Turkus on 6 September Kakko also scored a goal. In the meantime Hager shrugs his shoulders over Kakko: "After a full year in the Finnish league, I'm not surprised that he plays at this level at the World Cup."

This is really a show. In his five goals against the Canadian selection (3: 1) and the World Cup hosts Slovakia (4: 2) were indeed two in the empty opponent goal. But this also shows its importance when the 18-year-old may in the tight final phase of a game on the ice may, in which the opponent creates with the removal of the goalkeeper in favor of another fielder a superior number situation.

In addition, his own goal against Slovakia was an empty goal. With only one arm Kakko led the puck gracefully, with the other arm to hold a disturbing opponent of the body. He circled it and then killed it. "That was awesome," the teenager said afterwards.

Kakko, who has already won the U18 and U20 World Cup with Finland, now enjoys his appearance among men. "I tried to practice a lot of English here before the interviews. Having so much attention is fun, "said Finland's most sought after man. That too is a good exercise for the end of June. By then he will have to speak a lot of English. dpa / nd

. (TagsToTranslate) Hockey (t) Finland (t) Slovakia (t) United States

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