Finland has announced their pre-tournament roster for the upcoming World Junior Championships and there are a lot of familiar names on the roster to US hockey fans.
Both the NCAA and USHL have made big strides in recent years in attracting top talent from Finland, and that is evidenced by six players playing in those leagues being selected to Finland’s preliminary roster for the tournament.
Boston College freshman Jesper Mattila is one of ten defensemen trying out for seven roster spots on the blue line. Former Green Bay Gamblers defenseman Vili Saarjarvi, now of the Mississauga Steelheads(OHL) is also on the roster.
At forward, Boston College’s Julius Mattila, Denver’s Henrik Borgstrom, Providence’s Kasper Bjorqvist(a member of last year’s gold medal-winning team), and the Sioux City(USHL) duo of Eeli Tolvanen and Aapeli Rasanen are among the 15 forwards competing for the final 13 roster spots.
The Finns are the defending gold medalists coming into the tournament, and should be among the contenders again this year, despite missing the presence of superstars Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi. Laine and Puljujarvi were the driving forces behind last year’s gold medal, and still have eligibility for the next two WJCs, but are already making an impact in the NHL, and will not be released for the tournament.