Topi Niemela's first career AHL goal was a huge one for the Marlies to force OT

Mike Armenti
April 6, 2023  (10:31)

Some players are just big moment players and while it's still early yet to make a determination on what type of player Topi Niemela will be, the goal he scored in the dying seconds of last night's Marlies/Wolf Pack game to tie the game at 1-1 and send the Marlies to overtime is a pretty good indicator that he is, in fact, a big moment player.

With his team down 1-0 with 12 seconds left in the 3rd period, Niemela was patrolling the blue line in the offensive zone and took a pass from Alex Steeves from the top of the circle, but instead of firing immediately, Niemela faked a one-timer to freeze the Hartford center, then shifted over to his right - head up the whole time to find a lane - and once he picked his spot, he ripped an absolute laser home from about 50-60 feet out.
Niemela now has points in each of his 2 games with the Marlies and while the Wolf Pack still picked up the win in OT over the Marlies last night, Niemela showed that he can come through in the high-pressure situations, like late in a game, down a goal.
For some, it really does take awhile to adjust to the North American ice after coming over from Europe. With AHL rinks being the same size as NHL rinks, there's a lot less time and space, which means that decisions need to be made more quickly. Niemela not only made a couple of good decisions on the play to fake the one-timer and then shift right to open up a shooting lane, but then he showcased his NHL-caliber shot to bury an important goal.
The Leafs may have found a good one in Neimela.
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