(Video) 2016 World Junior Championship: Aleksi Saarela, Niko Mikkola, and Sami Niku, Finland

By Chapin Landvogt
Miska Siikonen, Mikko Rantanen, Juha Lammikko and Vili Saarijaervi - Team Finland - 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship

Photo: Team Finland players Miska Siikonen (#13), Mikko Rantanen (#15), Juho Lammikko (#28), and Vili Saarijarvi (#18) jump over the boards to celebrate after Finland defeated Sweden in the semi-finals of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship (courtesy of MARKKU ULANDER/AFP/Getty Images)



Team Finland will have the chance to win a gold medal on home ice at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship after defeating Sweden by a 2-1 score at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.

The win sends the Finns into the championship game against Russia, a team they have already faced once at this tournament. That prior game in the preliminary round went to Russia by a 6-4 score, a game in which the Finns led 3-1 before the Russian rattled off four straight second period goals an another in the third to secure the win.

One Finnish player that had some success against the Russians in that last game was forward Aleksi Saarela (NYR), who netted two goals in the loss. Saarela has provided secondary scoring for Finland at this WJC, posting four goals and two assists in six games.

A defensive pairing that has turned in a solid showing for the Finns is one that consists of Sami Niku (WPG) and Niko Mikkola (STL). While neither player has produced much in the way of points – Niku has a goal and an assist and Mikkola has an assist – both have posted +4 ratings for a team that is in the middle of the pack at this tournament in terms of goals allowed.

Saarela, Mikkola, and Niku spoke with Hockey’s Future after Finland’s semi-final win, conversations that are included in this HF video.

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