Jacks sign Finnish goaltender; Joly returns for '08-09
(Odessa, TX) - The Odessa Jackalopes announced today that they've signed 21-year old Finnish goaltender Juha Toivonen for the upcoming 2008-2009 Central Hockey League season. The team also announced that physical defenseman Mario Joly will return to the Jackalopes' blue line.
Juha Toivonen (YOO-hah TOY-vo-nin), the younger brother of St. Louis Blues goaltender Hannu Toivonen, has played the last three seasons for Finnish 1st Division team HPK Hameenlinna.
"He is very quick and agile, a hybrid' style goalie," said New York Islanders European scout Vellu Kautonen. "He's a good stick handler and likes to get involved with the puck. His positioning is good and because of his quick legs, he also has good lateral movement."
Toivonen, who is 6-0, 175 pounds, has also represented Finland internationally at world junior tournaments since 2003, including competition in Michigan and Lake Placid.
"I am really excited to play for the Jackalopes next season," Toivonen said. "I know I have to make a few adjustments to my game in a smaller rink, but I don't think that's going to cause me any problems. Because of my junior national team tournaments I have played in North America."
Odessa coach Paul Gillis is hoping Toivonen will be an impact player for the Jackalopes.
"We've heard he's a very technically sound goalie who comes from a hockey family," said Gillis. "It will be very interesting to see how he adjusts to the North American game. But we know he's young and talented."
Mario Joly appeared in 63 games last season for the Jackalopes, scoring 13 goals and adding 29 assists (42 points). The former CHL All-Star also accumulated 217 penalty minutes over the season for the Jacks, and tallied five assists in five playoff games last year.
"He's a big, physical presence on the ice," said Jacks head coach Paul Gillis, "It's hard to find a big, tough defenseman who can play and we expect Mario to be a part of our team."
Prior to his time in Odessa, Joly was member of the Pensacola Ice Pilots of the ECHL in 2006-2007, the CHL's Tulsa Oilers from 2004-2006, and the Flint Generals of the UHL in 2003-2004. In the last four years as a professional Joly has appeared in 215 games, recorded 165 points (38 goals, 127 assists) and spent 696 minutes in the penalty box.
The Odessa Jackalopes are the Central Hockey League affiliate for the NHL's New York Islanders and the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The team will begin its 12th season on October 17th against the defending champion Arizona Sundogs. Season tickets, mini-plans, and single game tickets are available by calling (432) 552-PUCK or visiting jackalopes.org.
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