Game preview: Gators vs. Nordmen

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After a disappointing 2021 campaign, the Rovaniemi Nordmen have rebuilt and are looking to take the SAJL’s 2nd Division by storm.

Can we just all agree that the last two years have sucked? After a shortened and very rocky season in 2020, the Rovaniemi Nordmen looked to 2021 with great intentions and higher hopes. Then came the QB carousel that left us all feeling nauseated. Then came injuries and quarantines and ultimately, an unforeseen and unfortunate end to the season before it was even over. To put it nicely, the Nordmen’s first foray into the SAJL’s 1st division was lackluster and not what we had hoped for. To put it bluntly, throw in a few more four-letter words and a couple that start with V & P in Finnish, and you’re on the right track.

But that’s the past. After a longer than normal off-season, a successful rookie recruiting class and the addition of an experienced and knowledgeable coaching staff, the Nordmen have transformed and evolved. With so much change, what can the Nordmen expect as they make the return to the 2nd Division with so many fresh faces on this roster?

What to expect from the Gators

Seinäjoki has played Lazarus and revived their development team from the grave of years past. The Gators haven’t given any insight with their roster for this upcoming season, and quite honestly they are probably still figuring it out. The Seinäjoki Crocodiles will face the Kuopio Steelers the day after the Gators play, so expect no help from there. The Nordmen will go and face what will more than likely be a somewhat inexperienced team, who are young and hungry to play and show their worth in the men’s 2nd division. At this point, there is not much to expect, but everyone will find out after week 1 what they truly look like as a team.

What to expect from the Nordmen

Rovaniemi has been tackling their biggest issues and needs during the off-season. HC Jonathan Ashton came to stay and turn this ship’s course. With Coach Johnny at the helm, the Nordmen have progressed to a fast-firing Air Raid team. During the off-season the Warriors of the Four Winds brought back their key veterans such as defensive standouts Petri “The Pulverizer” Korhonen, David “The Austrian HammerKreuzhuber and star wideout Alfonso Ikäheimo. In addition to these key pieces, the team is bringing out 14 (YES, 14!) rookies onto the field this year. DC Ryan Oliveira has the defense developing into a fierce unit. Opposing offenses, beware of this hard hitting squad!

Rovaniemi will have a bunch of rookies starting on both sides of the ball right from the get-go. Keep an eye out for the cheetah-like speedster trio of WR Olli Salmela, WR Miika Virkki and RB Aleksi Vaarala. These three amigos will be an extremely dangerous add-on to the Nordmen offense and will for sure make defenses look silly with their blazing speed and Houdini-like escapes from tackles and tight spaces. Defensively, keep an eye out for DE Juhani Kivelä who will be flying towards the backfield looking for a QB to smack around. I say DO NOT go towards the monster of the backfield, SS Tapio Aaltonen; he will make you pay. This 196cm, 104kg safety will wreak havoc on whomever comes his way. Last but not the least, DB Sami Kuusela will be keeping his eyes out for any passes his way and this ball hawk will make it hard for opposing receivers. Expect all 14 rookies to make a big impact on future games.

The Nordmen are traveling for the first week of the season and are hunting for Gators! Look for the team pull out all their stops to come out of the swamp with a W.

Look for the Nordmen to be a very different team than you are used to. With the addition of these new faces, expect a young and VERY explosive team both sides of the ball.

Important Info

Kick-off is at 4pm, Saturday June 4th at Jouppilanvuori.

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