Game preview: Falcons vs. Nordmen

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The final road trip of the regular season will be the Nordmen’s chance at locking up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

It’s now been more than two years since the Rovaniemi Nordmen have tasted defeat. It’s been a long and difficult journey, at times, but this weekend’s away game in Hyvinkää is exceptionally important to the Nordmen’s playoff plans. Win, and they secure home-field advantage throughout the Division 2 playoffs; so in addition to hosting a semi-final game, they would also be the hosts of the Iron Bowl championship game, should they advance from the semi-final game.

During Hyvinkää’s visit to Rovaniemi, earlier this season, hurricane-like conditions made for difficult game play by both teams, but breaks in the weather allowed the Nordmen offense to strike hard and fast, defeating the Falcons by a score of 35-13. Rovaniemi will look to turn in the same result to wrap up the regular season, as they seek to go undefeated in the regular season again this year, and continue their 15 game winning streak.

What to expect from the Falcons

Hyvinkää has one of the best youth organizations in all of Finland, and it shows. They have a balance of speed and strength on both sides of the ball, with their running game being the real work-horse on offense. Look for them to try and test the Nordmen rush and perhaps try to open things up in the passing game this way. Both Joonas Alakoski and Osku Karttunen reeled in TD’s in their first match-up with Rovaniemi earlier this season, so expect them to be involved in the offensive attack, early and often.

The Falcons will have home-field advantage, for sure, as the Nordmen will be making an over-night trip for this game. It will be important for Hyvinkää to come out aggressive on both sides of the ball, and to perform well on special teams. Depending on how well they manage the rush from the Rovaniemi front 7 will determine the outcome of this game.

What to expect from the Nordmen

A very optimistic goal by the Jyväskylä Jaguars of knocking off the Nordmen last week fell short. Very short. In fact, it barely left the starting line. After a 6-54 whopping of the Jags, the Nordmen are hungry and ready to finish off this regular season with a perfect record, and they will be primed to do that with almost their entire roster making this trip to Hyvinkää. Many teams have issues with collecting enough players to make the trip north to Rovaniemi, but the Nordmen have become accustomed to these longer trips and have consistently been able to send a solid roster of players to give them the best chances of winning. They’ll be doing the same this weekend, as well.

The Nordmen offense is hitting stride and the timing couldn’t be perfect. An injury to Axl Isaksson kept him sidelined during the Jyväskylä game, but Kaarle “King Charles” Silander was able to more than pick up the slack, en route to a great game on the ground. His combination of strength and speed have been huge to the success of the Nordmen running game and have opened up the passing game, considerably. Rafael Piñeda proved that he still had plenty of gas left in the tank against the Jaguars, throwing for 3 TDs and running for two more, while gaining about 175 yards on the ground. He was a beast and had his best game in a Nordmen jersey yet. He wants this win and he’s not going to let it slip away.

Players to watch: Hyvinkää

Hyvinkää’s defensive secondary.

The success of this unit will decide the game for Hyvinkää. The Nordmen front 7 will be brutal and punishing. The only hopes they have at winning this game is by keeping it close and not allowing the Rovaniemi offense to blow them out. If they give up more than 3 big plays, this one will likely be over fast.

Players to watch: Rovaniemi

Eino Kalliomäki, Petri Korhonen & Roni Laine.

Good ol’ Mr. Ten Yards himself, Kalliomäki, has put together an amazing season for the Warriors of the Four Winds. His blocking is among the very best at the receiver position and he runs the hard routes that almost always result in big hits. He balled out in the first half in Jyväskylä. Look for him to get the ball early and often to help open up the passing game for Hannes Harju & Alfonso Ikäheimo.

Petri “the Pulverizer” Korhonen is the heart and soul of the Nordmen pass rush. Easily able to blow by anyone that lines up across from him, Korhonen has compiled an impressive stat line on the season and is looking to make it even better in Hyvinkää. He’ll bring the heat up the middle, so the Falcons had better be prepared for that.

Roni Laine has got to be one of the most talented, young players on the Rovaniemi roster. He is great in press and zone coverage and is one of the most vicious hitters on the field. He’ll likely line-up across from whoever is Hyvinkää’s #1 receiver and it’ll be his job to shut them down for the day. It’ll be just another day at the office for Mr. Laine.

Prediction

If you ask around, the 2019 Rovaniemi Nordmen are a confident yet reserved bunch. They know what they want and they know how to get it. They will not be making this long road trip with the hopes of having to play another road game this year. They want this and taking it away from them is not going to come easy. The drive for the Iron Bowl continues…

Final score: 6-42. Nordmen win.

Important info

Kick-off is at 2pm, Saturday August 17th at Perttulan Nurmet. Additional information can be found in the Facebook event. Admission is free to all and the Falcons will also have a collection of players from years passed on hand. This is gonna be a fun event, so if you’re in the area, please consider going!

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