Little was known in 2007 about a young Finnish born goalie but here he was in Southern Alberta and starting for the Hurricanes in the Western Hockey League. Little did we all know, a local Lethbridge legend had arrived. Enter Juha Metsola.
Lethbridge selected the Tampere, Finland native in the 2007 Canadian Hockey League import draft,. He was a first-round selection going 25th overall. Metsola appeared in 83 games with the Hurricanes, finishing with a record of 45-28-6 and posting a goals against average of 2.51. He also had a respectable .910 save percentage.
*photo credit to Joshua Schroeder*
The highlight of Metsola’s time with the Hurricanes was the 2008 playoff run where he backstopped Lethbridge through 18 games all the way to the WHL final. During those playoffs, he posted a .908 save percentage while recording a 2.37 goals against average. The Hurricanes were unable to win the Championship that season falling in four games to the Spokane Chiefs, who went on to win the Memorial Cup.
Metsola owns a few records to this day with the Hurricanes including best Goal Against Average in a season and is the holder of most shutouts in a season with five. This is a record he shares with three others: Logan Koopmans, Aaron Sorochan, and Michael Maniago.
After his time with the Lethbridge Hurricanes came to a close, Metsola returned to his native Finland, spending time in both Mestis league and Liiga – which is the top professional league in Finland. This is where he suited up for HPK Hameenlinna. He saw limited time with the “Knights” though. In only four appearances he went win less with a 0-2-0 record.
*photo credit to Timo Savela*
Moving on in the 2011-12 season, Metsola signed with Tappara Tampere of the Liiga. He played there for four seasons. While playing for his home town team the local boy posted a winning career record of 87-47-42 (ties). Metsola posted a 2.17 goals against and .929 save percentage over those four seasons. He won the league’s best goaltender award (Urpo Ylonen award) in his final season in Tampere (2014-15 season).
The 2015-16 season was the start of a new chapter for Juha Metsola in his hockey career has he signed a three year deal in the KHL with Khabarovsk Amur. He would go on the earn multiple “goalie of the week” awards and was named to the all-star team as well.
As a free agent Metsola made another switch in teams, signing a two-year contract with Salavat Yulaev. In the first year of the deal, he posted a 25-20-1 regular season record with a 2.02 Goals Against Average and .934 save percentage. Those number were good enough to earn him the KHL goalie of the year award as well as the first all-star team and a couple of “goalie of the week” awards.
*photo credit to KHL twitter*
It has been a storied career for the now 30-year-old who is finding a measure of success in multiple leagues, but it will always be the magical 2007 playoff run and the chants of Juha!! echoing through the Enmax center that will be front and center in the eyes of his Lethbridge Hurricanes fans.