Game preview: Nordmen vs. Teurastajat – Rautamalja 2019

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The best of the 2nd Division’s best square off for the Iron Bowl this Saturday, when the undefeated Rovaniemi Nordmen will welcome the equally undefeated Porvoon Teurastajat.

By the time kickoff rolls around on Saturday, September 7th at Rovaniemen Keskuskenttä, it will have been nearly 25 months since the Rovaniemi Nordmen last tasted defeat. In that span of time, the Warriors of the Four Winds have compiled at 17-game winning streak — the longest among all divisions in Finland. Although we’ve come to love the number 17 (shout-out to our own #17, Alfonso Ikäheimo), the Nordmen will be seeking to make it 18 straight wins and to win their second division championship in a row; after winning the 3rd Division’s prize, the Tin Bowl, last year.

The game will by no means be a push-over for Rovaniemi. The Porvoo Butcher’s development team, the Teurastajat, have dominated their own group this entire season; as well as crushing their semi-final opponent, the Oulu Northern Lights, last weekend by a final score of 52-15. The Teurastajat will not be making this long trip with the idea of heading home empty-handed, though.

Let’s take a closer look at what to expect from both of these teams for the 2019 Iron Bowl!

What to expect from the Teurastajat

Porvoo has had nearly as dominant of a season as the Nordmen have against their opponents. After going 7-0 in the regular season, and outscoring their competition by a margin of 260-49, the Teurastajat easily dispatched of the Oulu Northern Lights in what many were expecting to be a much closer game than it ended up being. Oulu, who had a solid running game all year, wasn’t able to pass the ball at all against Porvoo and by many accounts, came out very flat and were out-classed by one of the Maple League’s development teams. Porvoo’s offense has to be good to be able to put up as many points as they have this year, and their defense is certainly nothing to second-guess; after allowing the second fewest points in the division, behind only the Nordmen.

The Teurastajat will be coming up with what we’re hearing is a rather young, but extremely talented roster. This is to be expected, of course, considering that many of these players have been practicing alongside their Maple League counterparts. This will be the first, true test for the Nordmen this year. No doubt about that.

What to expect from the Nordmen

The 2019 Rovaniemi Nordmen is a collection of players from all walks of life. Rookies that range in age from 19 to their mid-30’s. Players just now getting their first season under their belt and then others that have been playing for over 20 years. Students, industrial workers, entrepreneurs, soldiers and more. This team is a multi-faceted and beautifully woven tapestry of hard work, dedication, perseverance and desire that has achieved so much, in such a short span of time. Each and every one of these players will be playing their heart out, in front of their home crowd, and on the biggest stage that many of them have ever played.

Thanks to an active presence on social media and several articles having been published in local newspapers, the Rovaniemi Nordmen are riding a wave of popularity that they have never before experienced. Three weeks off has given the Nordmen time to prepare and game-plan, as well as get pumped for this showdown. Expect this team to be healthy and hungry when they take the field at Keskuskenttä on Saturday, with what is shaping up to be a record crowd on-hand to cheer them on.

They want this. They’ve been working towards this moment for the past year. They will not be denied what they set their sights on. In short, expect them to leave everything they have out on the field.

Players to watch

We’ve been talking about the teams we’ve faced all year. This time, we’re only going to talk about our own guys.

Rafael Piñeda, Kaarle Silander & Juhana Pelkonen.

He’s been a hot-button topic all year, but head coach/quarterback/middle linebacker Rafael Piñeda has done something truly incredible in Rovaniemi. Yes, he’s the most talented player on the roster, but his coaching and guidance will be felt for years to come. A driven and determined competitor, Piñeda will be doing everything he can to win this game; on both sides of the ball. With his father being in attendance, and having not seen Rafael play for over ten years, expect Piñeda to give the performance of his life on Saturday and will this team to victory, if he must.

It’s almost a fairy tale when you take a step back and look at it. A player that got his start in Rovaniemi, played last season with the East City Giants and then came back to help contribute to an up-and-coming team. When he started the season, he was third on the depth chart at running back. My oh my, how things can change in the span of a few games. Kaarle Silander has established himself as one of the best ball carriers in the 2nd division, showing off his field vision, speed and grit week in and week out. If he touches the ball, hold onto your socks and have your camera ready, because this guy is a highlight reel waiting to happen.

Quite possibly one of the most feared men to come around the outside, Juhana Pelkonen has put together an amazing season after making the switch to OLB from DE. His franchise sack record gets rewritten on a weekly basis and he even notched his first INT of his career this year. He’s had a resurgence since making the switch and it’s one that has made the Nordmen pass rush as dominant as it has been this year. He’d love nothing more than to be able to introduce himself to Porvoo’s QB in one of the most aggressive ways possible: with a nice, blind-side sack.

Prediction

No predictions for this one. Just come out to the game and see it for yourselves!

Important Info

Kick-off is at 6pm, Saturday September 7th at Rovaniemen Keskuskenttä. Additional information can be found in our Facebook event. Tickets are 5€ for adults; under 18 is free. Game announcing will be done in both Finnish and English by Timo Haapa-aro & Rob Patterson, respectively. Alcohol and food will also be available for sale at the game.

NOTE: Parking may be limited downtown, due to the International Grand Markets also being in Rovaniemi at this time. Reserve time to find parking and get to the game so that you won’t miss the pre-game festivities, including the Finnish National Anthem being played by the Rovaniemi Volunteer Firefighter’s Band!

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