While the first semifinal game at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship ended up being won going away by Team USA, the second game provided a thrilling, overtime victory for Team Finland, and an agonizing loss for host team Switzerland as the Finns pulled out a 5-4 OT win at Brassard Arena in Zug, Switzerland.
Switzerland had tied the game in the last minute of the third period on a goal by Damien Riat to send the game to overtime. The Swiss then had a power play opportunity early in the overtime when Aleksi Saarela was whistled for slashing. Finland killed off that opportunity, then Saarela went from potential goat to overtime hero as he scored the game winner to send the Finns to the gold medal game against the USA.
Saarela’s goal was his second of the game, as well as his third point on the day. For the tournament, he has three goals and five assists in six games, placing him third in scoring on Finland’s roster. Back home, Saarela competed for Assat in Finland’s Liiga.
NHL Central Scouting has Saarela ranked 31st among European skaters in their final rankings for the 2015 NHL Draft after ranking him 25th on their midterm list.
Hockey’s Future spoke with Saarela following the overtime win, a conversation that is featured in this HF video.
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