KLUB HOKEJA NA LEDUMEDVEŠČAKZAGREB
ICE HOCKEY CLUB
Zagreb Bears are joined by a Finnish goaltender of a big frame (199 cm, 91 kg) with the experience of playing in the KHL and the AHL.
“Niko is a big Finnish goalie who has unlimited potential. He has KHL experience and is looking forward to this opportunity to come in and compete for minutes and prove why he's a top KHL goalie,” Aaron Fox, Medvescak’s Sports Director commented while announcing the transfer.
Hovinen grew up in Jokerit’s school and Minnesota Wild picked him up in 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He will wait a further six years before going to North America which he spent playing for the Pelicans of the Liiga and HeKi on loan. In 2011 he was the third Finnish goaltender in the World Championship where Finland caught their second gold medal ever, and in the same year, after a great season, Philadelphia Flyers signed him to a three year contract. He spent the next season playing in their AHL and ECHL affiliates, Trenton Titans and Oklahoma City Barons.
Returning to European ice, he first joined Mettalurg Novokuznetsk of KHL and later Admiral Vladivostok. In 2014/15 season he moved around from Austria (where he won the EBEL Championship) to Sweden where he was a part of Lulea HF and Malmö Redhawks. From Sweden he returned to the Liiga where he finished the season with the Pelicans after a quarterfinal loss. He played in four games in the playoffs putting up a 93,2%sv and 1.99 GAA.
Hovinen comes from a sports family in which parents were famous athletes and all three sons decided to go into hockey. Father, Seppo Hovinen was a Finnish champion in javelin throw and participated in 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. While the mother, Ulla Lundholm still holds the national record in women’s discus throw. She participated in 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and finished just outside the medal count, in fourth place. Niko’s younger brother Miro is a defenseman for the Pelicans and his older brother, Rami, stopped playing hockey after junior level.
Through Bear’s Quest, a project fans can follow on KHL Medvescak’s social media profiles with #jointhestory, we found out that the newest member of the Den has a nick-name Pappi which translates as priest, in his free time he likes to play golf, and his favourite food is anything barbecue.