PLYMOUTH, Mich. – It's been a crazy summer with little down time and lots of elite-level hockey.
Over the past two months, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been in his home country for less than two weeks. But it's all good. Especially when that time away meant being an NHL draft pick and playing for Team Finland.
The goaltender started his summer in Chicago in June where he was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the second round.
From there he went to Calgary for a week of practice at his agent's camp.
Then it was on to Buffalo for two weeks of practice and Sabres development camp.
Finally, a respite back in Finland. For 10 whole days.
Then it was back to the United States to be part of Team Finland playing in the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich.
"So it hasn't been that much vacation for me but I can't complain," Luukkonen said after Finland's practice at USA Hockey Arena Thursday morning. "It's been a lot of traveling for me but it's something that will teach me a lot."
The learning doesn't necessarily translate in his numbers. He has two losses in two games for Finland. He gave up four goals on 22 shots in a 4-2 loss to the USA White squad, then gave up six goals, including the game-winner in overtime, in a 6-5 loss to Canada.
In two games, Luukkonen has a 4.96 goals-against average and a .778 save percentage.
But it's been a long, hectic summer. And there's plenty of time before Finland comes to Buffalo in December for the games that count.
"I'm feeling pretty good," Luukkonen said. "The team is playing well. Maybe to my own game, I should play a little bit better but of course it's only the summer. There's time to improve."