Finnish international defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, recently of the Dallas Stars, Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators, talked with KHL.ru about his new challenge by the Black Sea, his past encounters with Russia's star youngsters, and of his Olympic dream.

Jokipakka joined Sochi at the beginning of October, has played 14 games, and banked 3 (1+2) points.

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“I’m happy that I'm playing a lot”

- What can you say about your time here in the KHL since joining the team?

- It has been fun; it is different from North America, but so far, I like it. We want to make the play-offs.

- Why did you decide to come to the KHL?

- I went to camp with the Washington Capitals, but they didn’t offer me a contract. Than I heard Sochi was interested in signing me. Now I’m here ,and I want to make the Olympic team. Maybe the Capitals didn’t need my type of player.

- Are you surprised that, at this stage in your career, you didn’t get offers from other NHL teams?

- I played for three years in the NHL, and one in the AHL. New players are always coming through and doing well. It happens. But I’m happy to be here.

- Sochi is a good choice?

- It’s good, I’m playing a lot and happy with that.

- Now you’re playing in an Olympic city and thinking about the Olympics…

- It’s interesting. The Olympics is a very special tournament, I really want to be there.

- In your last game, against Salavat Yulaev, you finally hit the ice of the main arena of the previous Winter Olympics.

- First time for me, yes. it was fun, and there were a lot of people. It was nice that the fans set a new attendance record. In the Shaiba arena there are fewer people, but I like the fans.

- Your head coach, Sergei Zubov, is a legend with the Dallas Stars, where you spent a lot of time. Did you follow his career when you were a child?

- Not really, but I knew he played there. I'd never met him before.

- What are the coaches like?

- Sergei is a good coach, he’s coaching well, and I like Ivano Zanatta. He’s funny guy.

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“It was tough losing against Russia in Buffalo”

- You have played at every stage of international competition, except the Olympics.

- Yes, I have been lucky, but now I need to play well to complete this list.

- What was it like playing for the national team at the Karjala Cup?

- It was good. We won every game. It was nice to beat Russia.

- Are you satisfied with your own performances?

- I don’t know, I should work on my game, and I know that I can play better. There is some room for improvement.

- And then you went to your home nation's capital to play against Jokerit.

- Yes, my family came to this game, and a couple of friends. It was fun to play back at home, and we won the game.

- You started your international career in Buffalo, in 2011, at the World Juniors. That is a famous tournament for Russians.

- I remembered their 5-3 victory in the final against Canada, after trailing 0-3. We played Russia in the quarter-finals and led by two goals, but they tied the game and then won it. That was tough on us. Russia had a great team, with Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeny Kuznetsov…

- Artemy Panarin.

- He was there too? I forget. And Dmitry Orlov was there.

- And you met Kuznetsov and Orlov at Capitals training camp.

- We didn’t remember each other. There were three Russians at camp – those two and Alex Ovechkin – and they're funny guys.

- Could you tell us what kind of experience you got from that World Juniors, and from last year's World Cup?

- Great experience. I had so much fun, and got so much confidence from Buffalo. In Toronto we didn’t play well, and lost all three games, but it was good.

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“I always wanted to be a hockey player”

- Other than hockey, do you have any career choices in your life?

- No, I don’t. I don’t even know what I would do if I didn’t play hockey. I always wanted to be a hockey player.

- Could you name your idols from childhood?

- Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu...

- But they’re forwards.

- Yes, but they were big stars in Finland.

- Any defensemen?

- Not really. Not any one, specific guy. I wanted to mix the styles of different defensemen.

- How do you see your own style as a defenseman?

- I try to play a two-way game but I’m much better at the defensive side, so I'm trying to improve the offensive part.

- What can you say about the city of Sochi?

- It’s fun, everything is good, the weather is good, and it’s not that cold. The arena is new, and it is a good team. I have already seen enough snow, so it’s nice to be in warm place. But, honestly, they have more than enough snow in the mountains here, so if I start missing it, I’ll go there.

- Have you been swimming in the sea yet?

- Not yet, I don’t have time.

- Have you tried the local food?

- I just eat sushi and steaks. I don't eat much local food. I did try borsht, and I liked it.

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Richard Delacy, Roman Solovyov,
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Related clubs

HC Sochi (Sochi) HC Sochi (Sochi)

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