Islanders Forward Otto Koivula Makes Strong Impression In Rookie Game

Otto Koivula certainly looks the part.

Now, the Finnish forward gets to show how quickly he can acclimate his game to North America.

The 6-5, 227-pound Koivula, a fourth-round pick in 2016, did not figure in the scoring in the Islanders’ 6-3 loss to the Flyers in the rookie game on Wednesday night at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow. But he certainly made his presence felt with his stickhandling and his physical play.

“Otto’s got great hands,” said Bridgeport (AHL) coach Brent Thompson, who ran the Islanders’ bench. “At the net and in tight. His vision. He’s got real good offensive instincts and he’s only going to get better.”

Wednesday’s game concluded the six-day rookie camp and the veterans report for training camp on Thursday with the first on-ice sessions are on Friday. The Islanders open their eight-game preseason schedule against the Flyers on Sunday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum.

Presumably, Koivula will get a chance to play in the preseason as new president and general manager Lou Lamoriello and new coach Barry Trotz audition players.

Former first-rounders Josh Ho-Sang, who set up Pius Suter’s goal, and Kieffer Bellows, who redirected David Quenneville’s shot for a power-play goal, may be more likely NHL prospects at this time. But Koivula’s size and soft touch with the puck could be intriguing.

Koivula, 20, played the past two seasons in the Finnish Elite League, with nine goals and 18 assists in 53 games last season.


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“Here, the game is so much faster,” Koivula said. “Everything happens faster. The game is different. The rink is smaller here and you have to be ready to play right away.”

But Koivula is confident he can adapt his game.

“It’s going to be easy,” Koivula said. “I’ve always watched the NHL. It’s my dream to be here. I want to be here. The game is different. I have to be different, too.”

Notes & quotes: Jeff Kubiak had the other goal for the Islanders, all of them coming in the first period. Noah Dobson and Scott Eansor also had assists . . . The Islanders, whose penalty kill ranked last in the NHL last season, allowed three power-play goals . . . The Flyers’ Oskar Lindblom had a hat trick, including two power-play goals, and an assist. He scored twice within nine seconds in the second period . . . The Flyers also scored twice within six seconds in the first period . . . Islanders left wing Michael Dal Colle, selected fifth overall in 2014, did not play after missing time in rookie camp with a lower-body issue . . . Islanders goalie Evan Buitenhuis played the first two periods and Mitch Gillam played in the third. For the Flyers, goalie Carter Hart was relieved by Liam Hughes to start the third period.


By Andrew Gross @AGrossNewsday

Andrew Gross joined Newsday in 2018 to cover the Islanders. He began reporting on the NHL in 2003 and has previously covered the Rangers and Devils. Other assignments have included the Jets, St. John’s and MLB.

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