Thursday, July 30, 2009

Blueland Guest Goalie: Karri Ramo

Karri Ramo came through Blueland twice last season. The first time he rode the bench while backing up Mike Smith. The second time was our season ending game where he had to bail out McKenna. He won't be through at all this season as he will be playing for Russia.

Karri was born on July 1, 1986 in Asikkala, Finland.

Karri and Kari, how cute! Karri is Finntastic, just like our Kari. One thing that makes me have a soft spot for Karri is that he played for the Lahti Pelicans. Why do I like the Pelicans? Because their goalie coach, partial owner and member of the board is none other than my very first goalie love, Pasi Nurminen. The fiery tempered Finn has been in Lahti for several years now since his career ending injury.

In 2001-02 Karri started his hockey career at the age of 16 with the Pelicans' Junior-C club. He advanced steadily through the ranks and played 19 games the next season. In 2003-04, Kari played 18 games and made his SM-Liiga debut playing 3 games for the Lahti's men's team.

In 2004, the Tampa Bay Lightning selected Kari in the 6th round (191st overall) in the NHL entry draft. Karri traveled to Traverse City that year to participate in the annual prospect tournament. Ramo shined with a 37 save performance in a 3-1 victory over St. Louis prospects in his first and only North American start.

That put a little pep in Karri's step and he went on to have a stellar season with Lahti's Junior-A. With a 1.70 GAA and a .945 SV% he rose above even Tuukka Rask, the promising first round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ramo would also become the Pelicans' SM-liiga starter at age 18 when Saint Pasi left the team due to injuries. At age 18 Ramo played 26 games and posted a respectable 3.98 GAA and .898. Karri won more games in his first month than Pasi had won the entire first half of the season (PASI WAS INJURED &*(^@&)

At the end of the season, Karri returned to the junior ranks where he guided the team to a play off spot. The Pelicans were quickly knocked out of the playoffs, but Ramo's performance got the attention of SM-liiga powerhouse HPK who signed Ramo away from Lahti in the offseason.

Karri began the 2005-06 season in HPK in a tandem with Miika Wiikman, but soon claimed the starting spot and was leading the SM-liiga in GAA and SV% before a knee injury put him out for a month. The injury not only hurt Ramo's momentum that season, but hurt his quest to take Tuukka Rask's starting goaltender job in the 2005 U20 World Junior Championships. He ended up backing up Tuukka. In his one appearance in the championships, he let in 7 goals against a talent rich USA team. All wasn't lost for the season though. Karri returned to HPK and he and Wiikman led the their team to the SM-liiga championship.

In 2006, Ramo began his rookie season in North American pro hockey with the AHL's Springfield Falcons. He started as the back up to veteran Sean Burke, but quickly took top billing. After an impressive first half of the season, Karri was named to the AHL Eastern Conference All Star team and won the Best Goaltender Award at the skills competition.

Ramo also recieved a few injury call ups from the Tampa Bay Lightning. On December 2, 2006, in Ottawa, starting goal tender Marc Denis was not allowed into Canada due to visa issues. Ramo was called to back up Johan Holmqvist. Ramo made his NHL debut when he was put in after Holmqvist was pulled after letting in four goals on seven shots. Ramo got a total of 2 injury call ups that season. He finished the season with the Falcons with a 3.13 GAA and SV% of .906.

Ramo started the 2007-08 season with the Norfolk Admirals, but ended up spending most of his time with the Lightning. On December 20, 2007 Kari earned his first NHL victory with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Karri played 22 games with the Lightning that season earning a GAA of 3.03 and a SV% of .899.

Karri was a part of the bronze medal winning Team Finland in 2008, too. At the 2008 IIHF World Championships, Team Finland defeated Team Sweden.

Karri split last season (2008-09) pretty evenly between the Norfolk Admirals and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Though he started the season with the Admirals, he was recalled multiple times by the Lightning and finished the season playing 24 contests....with only 4 wins. (Come on, give him a break, he's playing for Tampa Bay!!)

On June 23, 2009, Karri signed a 2 year contract with Avangard Omsk of the KHL. Good luck in Russia, Karri! I hope to see you back in the NHL one day.



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