On a very cold Saturday afternoon, the Helsinki Roosters hosted the Stockholm Mean Machines in an exhibition game. The Roosters won the game 47-19, but both teams learned about their respective teams during the process.
The Mean machines were travelling from Stockholm by boat, so there was a time restraint on the game, causing the quarters to only be 10 minutes in length. This did not stop the game from being an exciting event to watch, despite the extremely cold weather.
The Roosters had the first chance to score, starting with very good field position, thanks to an explosive kick return by newcomer Adam Connette. The Roosters proceeded to drive down the field against a very aggressive Mean Machines defense. But the drive was stopped suddenly with a fumble by running back Henri Jussila near the red zone area. Stockholm was unable to capitalize as they went three-and-out on their first series of the game. The Roosters also went three-and-out on their second series.
Finally, the Mean Machines started to drive the field offensively. Using the ground game, the Mean Machines faced a 4th and short in the middle of the field. The Roosters defense stood tall and stopped Anders Hermodsson from converting on the fourth down quarterback sneak.
This was the turning point in the game, as the Roosters offense finally got going. Brandon Connette sparked his offense using his legs to make plays, and hooked up with Alexander Wasiljeff to get the Roosters into scoring position. Kimi Linnainmaa put the first points on the board with a 3 yard touchdown catch from Connette (6-0, Roosters).
On the ensuing kickoff return the Mean Machines fumbled the ball inside their own red zone. 15 yards later, Kimi Linnainmaa was in the end zone again, courtesy of a Brandon Connette pass (13-0, Roosters).
The Stockholm Mean Machines were down by two scores, but not out of the fight. New acquisition Matthew Retzlaff returned the next kickoff to the Roosters 35 yard line, to give the Mean Machines great field position. The Stockholm offense took advantage of the situation and drove down to score on a short run by Noghor Jemide. The score was notable as Noghor Jemide jumped/hurdled defenders to get into the end zone (13-7, Roosters).
The Helsinki Roosters are ranked #6 in Europe for good reason, they were not phased by the Mean Machines perseverance. The Connette Brothers made a 40 yard connection to get the Roosters inside the 10 yard line of the Mean Machines. Receiver Alexander Wasiljeff was the next player to join the touchdown club, on an 8 yard strike from the quarterback Connette (20-7, Roosters). The Roosters defense increased pressure on the Anders Hermodsson led offense and forced a three-and-out on the Mean Machines next series. With a short field, the Roosters used a timely 20 yard screen pass to Henri Jussila to get into the Mean Machines red zone. This time Brandon Connette opted to run in an 8 yard score, to put the Roosters up 27-7. This would be the score going into halftime.
The second half started bad for the Mean Machines and set their fate in this game. After going three-and-out for the third time, Stockholm had a breakdown on their punt unit that resulted in the Roosters getting the ball inside the 10 yard line. Brandon Connette to Adam Connette on an 8 yard pass made the score 33-7 in favor of the Roosters. The Mean Machines followed that with another three-and-out series.
The Mean Machines then showed some resistance stopping the Roosters offense on a fourth down attempt in the middle of the field. This would be the last we would see of Brandon Connette and the Roosters starting offense. But the Rooster defense was still on the field to keep the Mean machines in check. That was not the case as the Mean Machines put together a scoring drive, capped by a 35 yard touchdown catch from receiver Matthew Retzlaff (33-13). Retzlaff ran a post corner route and made a play on the ball against Roosters All-Star Curtis Slater for the score. This play gives the Mean Machine something to look forward to building on in the future.
The rest of the game was a formality finished by subs and backups. The Mean Machines scored once more, running back Pontus Westman had a short touchdown run to make the score 33-19, Roosters. A 5 yard catch by Ville Karhinen from Roosters quarterback Miro Kadmiry made the score 41-19, Roosters. The final score of the game came from a sack-fumble created by Santtu Äyräväinen, that was recovered by Joonas Raatikainen, to make the final score 47-19, Roosters win.
This game was exactly what these two teams needed. The Stockholm Mean Machines used this game as a benchmark of where they stand on the scale of top teams in Europe. They found out that they are not there yet, but more than capable of getting there eventually, as shown by their resolve early in the game. The Helsinki Roosters were testing their team’s cohesion as a new group of players and coaches coming together underneath the pressure of the Roosters organizational expectations. They found that the team’s talent level is still at a high level, but there are minor issues that need to be improved before playing better competition in a month (Vienna Vikings, #3 team in Europe). This game was a mutually beneficial competition, and a really great way for neighboring countries to engage in sport.
*Photos of the game by Jari Tueunen
For my analysis of the game visit my website Perfect Pervis