The third game of day five of the World Junior Championship matched up Finland Vs. Slovakia. It’s been well documented that Finland has been struggling to score goals with only six scored early in the tournament, did that change today? Lets take a look.
First period
The first period was uneventful. Slovakia was trapping and Finland was happy to dump the puck in and engage in battles for the puck down low.
If you’re here, you’re likely a Canucks fan and just wondering how Olli Juolevi did so I’ll jump into that. Boring games are Juolevi’s time to shine, and he did. Again, he was steady in the neutral zone, breaking up plays and forcing the opposition to dump the puck in. He was smart with the puck, effectively drawing in forecheckers and utilizing his speedy defensive partner to maximize controlled zone exits, a trait of fan favourite, Chris Tanev.
In the chart below, notice that Juolevi had the second highest controlled zone exit rate, trailing only his partner, Chicago 2017, first round pick, Henri Jokiharju. Furthermore, note that fail rate, one fail on 19  touches, not too shabby.  The lower total exit rate is because the rate is based off defensive zone touches. If you see a lower total zone exit rate paired with a low fail rate, it means that the defencemen are passing multiple times prior to the exit. To put it simply, more touches per exit equals a lower exit rate.
Second Period
With the game tied 1-1, Olli Juolevi did his part to help the struggling Finnish powerplay. I’d say this is the type of offensive play you’d expect Juolevi to contribute, nothing flashy, just a smart heads up pass leading to an easy tap in for Aapeli Rasanen to put Finland up 2-1 late in the second.
Third Period
Florida Panthers draft pick, Aleksi Heponiemi scored to make it 3-1 at the 6:23 mark of the third period. It was his second goal and point in three games which is acceptable on most players standards, but from Heponiemi, I was expecting more production. Keep in mind this is a player who has put up an incredible 71 points in 29 games with the Swift Current Broncos this year. Watch for an increase in production from the 2017, second round pick soon.
Slovakia would score one to cut the lead to one, and then this happened, yikes! 4-2 Finland.
Finland’s Markus Nurmi would add another one to make it 5-2 with a slick backhand shot for the final goal of the game.
  • Juolevi played 19:03 over 28 shifts and for the most part, had another solid game spiced up a little bit with his beautiful primary assist. However, there were some blips on the radar. On one of the goals against, Juolevi was late reacting to defensive zone face-off that was pushed forward by the Slovakian centre. As a result, he was behind the play until Slovakia put the puck in the net. On a serparate note, a primary concern I have with Juolevi is his ability to get himself out of trouble which was only apparent today on one shift in the first period. He coughed up the puck, won it back, then passed to his partner Jokiharju and put him in a tough situation, reminds you a bit of his preseason, right? That being said, there were only a couple of hiccups in an otherwise steady game.
  • Nashville Predators first round pick, Eeli Tolvanen had a strong game was noticeably physical on the forecheck, separating plenty of opponents from the puck which is a huge part of Finland’s offensive strategy. Tolvanen played 19:03, had 1 assist, and finished with six, five on five primary shot contributions with four shot attempts while setting up two.
  • Undrafted, 19 year old, Finnish forward, Jere Innala had a big game finishing with ten primary shot contributions taking six shot attempts while setting up four shots.