LEWISTON — Oskar Orrpars and Riku Dufva are just two of the guys.

Upon first arriving in Lewiston for the Maineiacs’ training camp, the pair of players immediately found other prospective team members. They started high-fiving and chatting, like old friends.

Pretty strange considering Orrpars is from Sweden, and Dufva from Finland.

“It has to do with bringing them over a month early and letting them
acclimate,” Lewiston GM Roger Shannon said. “They’ve been living in Fredericton (New Brunswick) for over
a month, so they’ve been eating the food — which they eat a lot of, by
the way. They’ve had a month of skating, a month of fitness, and a
month of hanging around kids. And there were so many kids at our recent
camp who are here in the Maineiacs’ camp, they come here and they’re
high-fiving other kids and they know some of them.”

Both players are the first from their respective countries to play for the Lewiston Maineiacs, who are allowed two European players per season. Last year, Filip Janosik (Slovakia) and Denis Reul (Germany) filled that quota.

Although, unlike in some years past, the two players have to be able to be more than space and roster-fillers.

“We don’t care where any of the players come from when it comes to evaluation time,” head coach and president Don MacAdam said.

The players themselves are well aware of that standard, too.

“You have to move the puck faster here, you have less time with the puck,” Orrpars said. “I have to try my hardest out there.”

The two Scandinavian players have distinct qualities, too. Orrpars, 17, is a smaller, fleet-footed forward.

“I’ve always been a fast skater, and that’s good for playing here,” Orrpars said.

Dufva, 19, if a bruiser of a defenseman. In camp this week, he’s been held back a bit, to make sure he doesn’t hurt his future teammates.

“I like to hit people, for sure, but I’m more all-around,” Dufva said. “(The style of hockey) is a little bit different than European hockey, but in my opinion, it’s better,” Dufva said.

Both of them agree, though, that coming to North America to play was in their best interests.

“This is my dream, to come over here and play hockey, so you have to follow your dreams,” Orrpars said.

“Of course, it’s my dream to play professional hockey in North America,” Dufva said. “I just love the North American style of hockey.”


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