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Who’s Ville Husso?

Chicago Wolves defenseman Petteri Lindbohm isn’t quite sure how old he was – he thinks he might have been 11 – the first time he met Wolves goaltender Ville Husso.

Here’s what Lindbohm does remember: They were in Helsinki, Finland. They were both goalies who shared the same coach for practice. And he was better than his younger buddy.

“Oh, for sure,” Lindbohm said with a wide smile. “That’s why I had to quit – so he would have a job here.”

“I don’t think so,” Husso responded, deadpan. “I think ‘Lindy’ thought that I was better, so he stopped that goalie stuff and started to play defense. He’s really good on defense, so a better place for him.”

Ville HussoYes, it seems like the switch has worked out for everyone involved. The 23-year-old Lindbohm has appeared in 40 National Hockey League games and is a key part of the Wolves’ stout defensive corps.

Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Husso has been terrific during his first season on North American soil. In 22 appearances during the regular season for the Wolves, Husso posted a 13-6-2 record with a 2.37 goals against average and .920 save percentage.

And if the first two games of the Central Division Semifinals are any indication, Husso figures to be the Wolves’ primary goaltender throughout the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.

During Friday’s Game 2 victory at Charlotte that squared the series, Husso stopped 37 of 39 shots to set his season-high for saves with the Wolves. Those 37 saves included a variety of spectacular plays that kept the Checkers at bay.

“He’s calm,” said Wolves goaltenders coach Stan Dubicki. “Nothing rattles him. That’s going to be a big part of his game because nothing fazes him. If he gets a goal scored on him, he comes back and makes three or four great saves. He’s so patient in the net. He lets everything happen, watches everything develop and has great reads on plays.”

Husso has known he wanted to be a professional goalie since he was 5 or 6 years old. In Finland, which produces more great goaltenders per capita than any other country, he started attending goalie-only practices at that young age and never wavered in his determination to be the man in the crease.

“I got my new gear, my new stuff, right away,” Husso said. “I was a goalie all the time.”

Lindbohm switched to defense when he was 12 or 13 and generally played one level higher than Husso (due to their age difference), but he always kept his eye on his younger friend.

“He has always been one of the top Finnish goalie prospects,” Lindbohm said. “He works hard. He really wants to be better every day. He really wants to be one of the best goalies in the NHL.”

Ville HussoThe 6-foot-2, 205-pound Husso, drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, came to North America for good this summer after proving everything he could in Finland. Playing in his country’s top professional league last season, Husso was spectacular during the regular season (1.91 GAA) and topped that with a 1.55 GAA in the postseason to lead his team to the finals. He was named the league’s Goaltender of the Year.

Upon his arrival in Chicago, Lindbohm took Husso under his wing – just like former Wolves defenseman Jani Hakanpaa served as Lindbohm’s mentor during his first year in North America in 2014-15.

“‘Hak’ took big care of me,” Lindbohm said. “Showed me all the places. Helped me with houses and cars, stuff like that. That is the thing we try to keep going. Maybe there’ll be a young guy coming here next year and ‘Hoose’ will take care of him.”

“It was so nice having ‘Lindy’ here,” Husso said. “He drove me around all the time and helped me so much.”

During his year here, Husso’s English has improved dramatically and he and his girlfriend have jumped into Wolves life with both feet. They came to America with one Yorkshire terrier, but adopted another at one of the team’s first Adopt-A-Dog Nights this season.

“We are like a small family,” Husso said. “And we have ‘Lindy,’ who we have to take care of sometimes as well.”