Of all the players on the IceHogs the one who might have the brightest future in the NHL is defenseman Ville Pokka.
Pokka has been on a tear of late. The offensively gifted defenseman has five assists in his last two games. He’s second on the team in points with 22. And he’s the seventh leading scorer among all defensemen in the AHL. And he’s only 21 years old.
“He goes about his business in a professional manner for a young man who’s only 21 years old,” says head coach Ted Dent. “He has great preparation before and after practice and before games as well, and he’s low maintenance. He just comes and plays.”
Pokka knows his role here is to provide scoring punch. The coaches want him shooting the puck.
“They encourage me to shoot a lot especially when I play the power play,” says Pokka. “I’m on the point, so I need to get pucks through on the net.”
“He’s a great defenseman,” says IceHogs forward Ryan Haggerty. “His foot speed, his skating is extremely good. Handling the puck and the way he sees the ice and runs the power play. He’s very offensive-minded, and it’s a defenseman we need on this team right now.”
So whom does Pokka pattern himself after?
“I watch a lot of Brent Seabrook since he plays the same style that I am.”
And Pokka is only going to get better. This is only his second professional season and his second season in the United States. He’s from Finland.
“Last year was my first year, so it takes a little time to get all the things going on and like all the little things going on outside of hockey, but I think now I’m just normal here like everybody else,” says Pokka about adjusting to life in America.