Photo: Goalie Andrei Vasilevski has a good chance of being the first goaltender to be drafted in to the 2012 NHL Draft. (Photo courtesy of
The 2012 IIHF U18 Tournament is upon us and, as in recent years, has the international scouting community licking its chops. This year's edition once again features a number of young men representing their country on the international scene who will hear their names called at the 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh. For many of them, this tournament will be the pinnacle of all their work this season and will leave a lasting impression – whether good or bad – in the minds and notebooks of what should be well over 120 NHL scouts in attendance. For all of them, this event will be an opportunity to go out and give it everything they've got for their native country, a motivation that often has no rival in the minds and hearts of 16-18 year olds. But which country will benefit most from that attitude? What teams can least afford to take a night off? Which players should be pushing the hardest for a victory in the tournament's final game? Here's what you can expect from the frontrunners for a gold medal at the 2012 IIHF U18 Tournament.
For Teemu Pulkkinen and his Finnish teammates, the 2012 World Junior Championship ended as a disappointment. The team came into the tournament feeling like it could come away with a medal, but one obstacle stood in the way of that accomplishment – Canada. The Finns were whipped by the Canadian squad in their first game, then lost 4-0 in the bronze medal to that same team.
Pulkkinen talked about missing out on the bronze medal following the loss to Canada.
Finnish alternate captains Jani Hakanpaa and Joonas Donskoi nearly achieved their goal of competing for the gold medal at the 2012 World Junior Championship. But the duo and their Finnish teammates fell short of that goal, losing a semi-final shootout thriller to rival Finland, 3-2.
The two Finnish players talked about the disappointing loss to Sweden following the game.
Finland head coach Raimo Helminen has his team focused after a first-game blowout loss to Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship. Helminen’s charges took the next step at this tournament with an 8-5 quarter-final win over Slovakia.
Helminen spoke with the media following his team’s win.
The elder of Finland‘s Granlund brothers, Mikael, did his part to help the Finns advance at the 2012 World Junior Championship. The forward collected one goal and three assists in Finland’s 8-5 quarter-final win over Slovakia.
Granlund spoke with the media following the team’s win over Slovakia.