Team Finland heads into their New Year’s Eve showdown with the Czech Republic with the wind at their backs after defeating Slovakia by an 8-3 score. The Finns, who often experience offensive woes at the IIHF World Junior Championship, have had no problems in that department on their home ice as they lead all countries in scoring with 18 goals heading into the final day of the preliminary round.
Leading the way for Finland in the win over the Slovaks was forward and 2016 NHL Draft prospect Jesse Puljujarvi, who scored one goal and added three assists for a four-point night. Three players – defenseman Vili Saarijarvi (DET) and forwards Sebastian Aho (CAR) and Patrik Laine (2016) – notched three points each in the game, with defenseman Olli Juolevi (2016) and forward Roope Hintz (DAL) each posting two points in the win. In all, 11 players picked up points for the Finns in the win.
With his three assist performance, Saarijarvi has moved up among the top-scoring defensemen competing at this WJC. He competes for the Flint Firebirds of the OHL, where he has turned in a productive season to date with four goals and 19 points in 28 games.
Saarijarvi spoke with Hockey’s Future after the win over Slovakia, a conversation captured in this HF video.
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