English | Autor: Hilska Mika

Kotilainen: The wild one

Funny interviewee. Problem child.  Loose cannon. Kindergarten employee. Sniper. MVP of WFC 2016 in Riga. That is Peter Kotilainen, 22 years and suddenly Finland’s biggest floorball name.

Kotilainen: The wild one Peter Kotilainen had made his international breakthrough at the WFC in Riga, where he was the Top Scorer, member of All Star Team as well as the MVP of the tournament. (Picture Erwin Keller)

In his eyes there was determination but also signs of surprise and confusion. Peter Kotilainen did not look prepared at all as he stood in the middle of Riga Arena rink with the WFC MVP golden shoe in his hands and every available camera blasting off at full auto. After all the Kim Nilssons and Niklas Jihdes of the floorball world, a skinny kid from Finland had showed up and taken over the tournament of the best of the best. MVP and top scorer with a big goal in the final against Sweden.

Before taking over the rink, Peter Kotilainen had gained a reputation as the guy with the funny interviews in English. It started at the U19 WFC in Hamburg with Kotilainen wrapping the organizer’s post-game video with his “Good game. Hotel sleeping now.” In Riga, it was “It’s normally börsday” after another high-scoring game by him. The impression has its roots in “pistepörssi”, Finnish for “scoring league”. Back home, Peter Kotilainen is known for his motto that scoring points is all that matters, spiced by his trademark hashtag #pörssit.

Not everyone in Finland was impressed, though. Certain commentators called for team management to better screen players let in front of cameras so that no more Peter Kotilainens were able to embarrass themselves and the country for inadequate language skills. The point, of course, is quite opposite. An average postgame interview with a mention of a tough game and need to play even better next time is forgotten in 30 seconds but Peter Kotilainen moments are shared and discussed for years, usually with smiles.

Back in Finland, it would not be unfair to describe Peter Kotilainen as the most entertaining player of Salibandyliiga to watch. His speed and skill are laced with an unbelievable amount of energy and passion to score yet another goal. He makes surprising moves, rushing forward to forecheck when the opponent least expects it or taking a shot from an impossible angle – often scoring.

“In warm-up, Peter may miss a pass by six metres and never flinch”, teammate Jaska Kunelius put it in a recent interview, “but when the real game starts, he’s totally in it.” Grown up in the street and backyard games, plays are what Peter Kotilainen lives for. “Put the ball in the middle and let’s play”, is one of his favorite lines.

At it’s best, his uncontrolled style produces but there’s also a backside. He may also overeagerly rush out of his position, opening plays for the opponent to then arrive back at his own zone just in time to fish the ball from his team’s own net.

And then there’s his temper that led to three red cards last season. After being knocked over by an opponent, Kotilainen got a penalty for lying play and called the referee a “fucking monkey”. A mere two weeks later he took revenge on an opponent by cross-checking him. After having lost the spring’s decisive semi-final on a controversial penalty shootout goal Kotilainen’s comments shouted at the referees got him there again. After bureaucratic confusion, Happee claimed they were informed about Kotilainen’s automatic ban a mere ten minutes before he was supposed to play the next weekend’s bronze medal game and a floorball scandal was prepared.

Peter Kotilainen’s road to success has been all but straightforward. The youngest one of the four Kotilainen floorball brothers, he lived a tough childhood with an alcoholic father whose presence sent his boys out of the house looking for consolation where they could – playing ball. Of the four brothers Pasi Kotilainen was the first to make a floorball career, playing for Happee, Oilers and the national team. Retired, he is now the general manager of Happee but his younger brothers Panu, Paul and Peter form a Happee line that destroys opponents. In a 6-4 win against SalBa in November, the brothers scored two goals each with Peter getting no less than four assists.

Yet, ultimate Salibandyliiga success has so far eluded Peter Kotilainen. After scoring 50 points for Happee in 2013, he changed to Classic who seemed the strongest contender for the Finnish title. Peter sure scored another 46 points but it was Happee who won their first title ever – with Classic as the final losers and Peter Kotilainen among them watching his best friends celebrate at the other end. Kotilainen returned home to his native Happee and has been maturing into a solid top player with 54- and 55-point seasons and this season’s 32 in 14 games.

Kotilainen making Finland’s WFC team probably had to do with another right-shooting sniper Lauri Kapanen out with a major knee injury but Finland’s new hope has all it takes to become a national team regular.

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