1-on-1 with Aku Raty

Tucson Roadrunners Forward Aku Raty joined Adrian Denny, Kim Cota-Robles and Arizona Daily Star Sports Editor Brett Fera this week on Roadrunners Happy Hour. Catch Happy Hour every Tuesday at 5 p.m. on Fox Sports 1450 AM and the Roadrunners Happy Hour Podcast on the iHeartRadio app. For the complete episode, and to hear about the hockey dream house, you can download below.

Listen to “The Finnish Finisher” on Spreaker.

Q: How did you and you brother get into hockey?

My dad played hockey until he was like probably 25. He played some National Junior National Team games, some Finnish professional, like the first league. A little bit second league and then he went straight to coaching, and he’s been coaching for probably 25 years now. So yeah, we got into hockey pretty early probably. I remember the first couple times it was our mom and like we were crying like all the time in the practice. It was not that we didn’t like it, we were just scared, a lot of new people there. Pretty early, like four or five years old.

Q: Your dad must’ve been a good coach. You have important little details in your game that set you apart from other players on the ice.

Yeah, it’s probably a little bit of him, but I’ve had some really good coaches too in my pro career and in junior years as well. So that has helped me. I like to study, I’m a student of the game, I like to watch a lot of hockey. So I think that’s probably part of it. I wasn’t playing too well at the start here, it took me some time to get used to this game. The guys are stronger, the game is played differently, which I like a lot actually. The American game is played the smaller rink. It took some time to get used to it, but then I got some power-play time, I got to rebuild some chemistry with Milos and Gregy (Ryan McGregor) too. So building some chemistry with the guys, just knowing how our structure works better, makes it easier for me and it’s been a pretty good 50-something games.

Q: You talked out the differences in the game, but how are the differences away from the rink? Had you ever been to Arizona before?

I’ve been here a couple of times, not to Tucson, but to Phoenix a couple of times when we’d been in Scottsdale with the development camps with the Coyotes, so I knew a little bit, but the big difference is the rinks are just a couple meters wider, it makes, I wouldn’t say huge difference, but a little bit. I think the culture too, how the game is played like guys hit a lot more. I feel like in Europe, it’s more skilled hockey here. It’s a lot of going to the net playing, shots to the net, shooting for rebounds, like boxing out. All that kind of stuff it’s really important here. So, there’s not a lot of space here, but it’s at the same time there’s more chances, if you get a steal in the corner, you can just go straight to the net and get a chance. So, there’s a lot of good, like good things too, but I prefer this one. Like I said, I read a lot of fun playing here.

Q: Were you competitive with your brother growing up?

Yeah, we are, but it’s easy for me. I’m a year older and we’re the same size, he’s even taller than me now. I’m usually the one that wins. We grew up playing everything, every sport you can name off, we played, and we still do. I feel like he’s a really good player too, but I rarely lose, but if I lose, I get really mad. So, he takes the losses like a champion for sure. I would say we’re pretty competitive.

Q: What was your experience getting drafted like? Where were you?

I was at my (grandmother’s) place close to Helsinki, Finland. I was asleep. We were going to London the next day for a family trip, and I did not know if I was going to get drafted. We had a flight at like 6 a.m. in the morning. It was early, probably 11:30, I was able to sleep probably 30 minutes and then my dad said you got drafted to the NHL. Then a lot of these guys called about flights and everything. A couple of the teams didn’t have the dev camp right after, so we already booked the trip probably three months earlier. I just flew to London with my parents and then I flew from there to Phoenix. It worked out.

Q: I have to imagine that it’s a little weird playing against your brother. How many games have you played against each other?

Yeah, it feels a little weird sometimes, but like after the first period, you’re not even thinking about it. But yeah, we’ve been on a lot of time of the same teams. He’s been good enough  to play up a year older with me. So, we grew up playing on the same line a lot too. He got traded at the professional level, and then he went to another team. He didn’t get a good amount of playing time in with the big team. They had a lot of imports coming in and he didn’t play that much. So, he went back to a smaller club and he was killing it. Almost point-per-game after that. So, I played a couple of times against him when he was playing over there, but other than that, it’s that. I’ve probably played four games in total against him.