Matt’s intro: Technically Cory was supposed to be introduced via some huge fanfare during the week leading up to the season opener when there was a big buzz about all things Hurricanes hockey, but as you can see from his introduction, Cory is chomping at the bit to start posting Hurricanes content.
I will still do the bigger, more formal version later, but here is a short introduction for Cory Fogg:
Cory is a native Mainer, and subsequent Paul Kariya enthusiast. He actually grew up a fan of the Mighty Ducks. One Disney sell-off, a few trades and a move to Raleigh later, he was swept onto the Hurricanes’ bandwagon during the electric 05-06 Cup run and has never jumped off. Currently, Cory writer is counting down the days until training camp, and saving his dollars to buy the jersey of the first former University of Maine Black Bear to sign with the Canes.
HOCKEY’S BACK!!!! HOCKEY’S BACK!!!!! HALLELUJAH, HOCKEY’S BACK!!!! Okay, so it’s just the warm-up games for the World Cup of Hockey, but I actually got to watch real, NHL-level hockey, in the form of USA-Finland last night, and it was so awesome. More importantly, I got my first look at super-hyped Hurricanes prospect Sebastian Aho, against legitimate NHL players.
Having sat the first two warm-up games, Aho got his first taste of NHL-style competition in Toronto. Of course, Aho’s dressing meant Finland scratched Teuvo Teravianen (a.k.a Taco Targaryen), which was slightly annoying, but I relished my opportunity to watch Aho finally play, and was quick to press my rewind button whenever #20 was on the ice. Here’s what I saw from the Canes new rookie:
Sebastian Aho has some serious hockey smarts
For a 19-year-old kid, playing for his first time on NHL ice, under NHL rules, against high level NHL talent, I was very impressed with Aho’s awareness of the game flow. Aho always knew where the puck was, and if he wasn’t going in to get it himself, he was always getting into a position where one of his teammates could find him. Further, I never once saw him get flippant with the puck when he had it. Multiple times, on a sluggish Finland team, Aho was the one who found the puck in the defensive zone and pushed the game up the ice. According to @Cane_alytics, Aho was one of only 7 Finns with a positive Corsi rating (+2), and he looks to be the kind of guy that will continually find himself in the right place at the right time. The kid is smart, he puts in some serious effort, and he’s earned very high praise from some fairly reputable sources
Sebastian Aho cannot grow facial hair
Okay, so that’s (probably) not true, but going up against a USA team that was clearly modeled on the 1994 Icelandic Jr. Goodwill Games team, Aho looked, at times, exactly like the 5’ 11” 170 pound teenager that he is. There was a rather funny play in the 2nd period, where Aho, surrounded by two Americans, dug the puck out of the corner and made a break for the goal. Then he ran into (or, rather, bounced off) Matt Niskanen. You could almost hear Niskanen laughing at the rookie when it happened. Now, Aho was not at all shy about mixing it up and trying to throw his body around out there, but it’s not an effective part of his game right now, and that’s likely to be a constant obstacle in his first year at the NHL level.
Sebastian Aho has ‘Playmaker’ written all over him
Until Patrick Laine scored his late goal, I (very subjectively) thought Aho was the best of the young Finnish forwards. I still think Aho played the best all-around game, it’s just easier to make shooting space if you’re 6’4”, 200. That said, the top strength of Aho’s game (in this writer’s view) is not his shooting, it’s his passing. Aho was one of the few Finns who really facilitated good puck movement and whenever he looked like he was just going to dump the puck into the USA zone, the puck always seemed to find its way to a teammate. If I were Elias Lindholm, I’d be very excited to have this kid as a potential linemate.
Upon watching the game, I think the WCoH is going to be hugely beneficial for Aho’s development, provided the Finns keep him in the lineup. Yes, it would be great to have Aho and Teravainen in camp, developing chemistry, but for a kid who has played the vast majority of his game on international ice, this event is going to help Aho get a headstart on adjusting to the NHL game and style of play. So if you happen to catch a Finland WCoH game, keep your eyes peeled for #20, and see what you think of the Finnish Flare.
For those who also watched Aho’s first game in the World Cup exhibition games, what were your impressions?