When Finnish exchange student Ville Rantanen joined the Mankato West boys' hockey team, the coaches were excited about his immense offensive talent. Now just five games into the season, it’s safe to say the expectations of both coaches and fans have been justified.
Rantanen, a senior forward from Helsinki, Finland, has scored a state-leading 19 goals in Mankato West’s first five games. His hot start has propelled the Scarlets to a 4-1 start. Justin Scanlon of Proctor is second in the state with 11 goals.
In West’s most recent game, Rantanen recorded a natural hat trick in the first period, prompting Faribault coach Brad Ryan to label Ville as “a force.” Getting a hat trick wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for the 6-foot, 180-pounder. He has at least a hat trick in four of his first five games and had six goals — four in the first period — in a 10-1 win over Waconia on Dec. 2. Rantanen’s deft touch around the net and prolific goal-scoring skills have brought him to the attention of local Division I college hockey programs.
Last year he played for Kiekko-Espoo, a U-18 team in Finland, leading the junior B division with 56 points (23 goals, 33 assists) in just 25 games. Originally Rantanen was headed to Mankato East, but a change in host family arrangements landed him at West, where head coach Curtis Doell and his staff are certainly appreciative of his contributions early on.