Team Finland defeated Team Austria 7-1 on day two of the 2022 World Juniors on Monday afternoon. Viewed broadly, the game was much better than their opening bout against the Germans, and while not perfect, they got the job done in convincing fashion.
Finland Laying Off the Throttle
For the second consecutive day at the World Juniors, Team Finland came into play as the heavy favourites. In their opening game, they started slowly against the Germans and took their time finding their groove before eventually finishing with a win. On Monday afternoon, the Finns borrowed much the same script against the Austrians and allowed them to hang around much later into the game than many would have expected.
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The Finnish roster was bolstered with the insertion of Roby Järventie for the first time, but it still wasn’t enough to start the game right from the puck drop playing the best hockey they are capable of. Through their first two games at the World Juniors, they have shown that they are slow starters and take a little bit of time to get to their game. For whatever reason they may have for that, starting the game with their feet pushing the pedal to the floor would serve them better.
In both games, they managed to turn things on in the second period and beyond, but that might not always be the case. In both instances, they were the much superior team on paper but took dangerously long, especially against the up-and-coming Germans to get things going. Maybe it was the Finns thinking the game would be easy and writing off their opposition before the game started, maybe they just haven’t settled completely into their new environment just yet, or maybe their coaching staff is taking the wrong approach at times, but no matter what, this is an area they will want to clean up before they play the likes of Czechia and Canada.
Finland Takes Over the Game
Yes, I did find just about the only negative from this game and focus on it. It’s something they need to work on, but I promise the negatives are done now. Finland did take this game over as everyone expected they would, albeit it was a little later in the game, but as they say, better late than never. They played a good portion of the first period leading 1-0 after a goal from Ville Koivunen, but it took them a while to score their second. Towards the end of the first period, they scored their second goal, courtesy of Samuel Helenius, his third of the tournament.
They scored two more goals in the second period, thanks to Kalle Väisänen and Kasper Simontaival, but the Austrians recorded a goal of their own on a wicked shot from Martin Urbanek. They were playing better and better as the game went on, but the complete domination didn’t come until the third period.
Third-period goals from Koivunen, Topi Niemelä, and Brad Lambert helped Finland ice their 7-1 win. This was their best period of the game. They pinned the Austrians deep in their zone for prolonged periods of time and while the shot clock may have been more one-sided in the first and second, they took advantage of their chances more frequently and smothered the Austrians more thoroughly in the third. When their start wasn’t as potent as they would have hoped, they rebounded nicely. There was never a moment where it looked like the Austrians would win this game, but there’s no question Finland ended the game better than they started it.
Brad Lambert Is Impressing
Right now, there isn’t a draft-eligible player at the World Juniors playing better than Team Finland forward Brad Lambert. In Monday night’s game Lambert was incredibly effective while playing with Helenius and Koivunen, scoring a goal and adding another two assists. In his first game against the Germans, Lambert picked up another two apples, bringing his tournament total to five points, a number that leads all players at the tournament after day two.
Lambert has seen his ranking for the upcoming draft tumble after a tough start to his season in Liiga with JYP, but it hasn’t taken him long to find his game at the World Juniors. He was advertised as one of the best players in this draft class, and if this tournament is any indication of what he could be capable of, that is for good reason.
He has shown flashes of the talent that got him mentioned in the same breath as Shane Wright and Matthew Savoie when the way too early mock drafts came out following the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Lambert has plenty of skill with his great skating and good hands, but the most impressive thing about his game this tournament has been his IQ. You can tell that he sees the game really well and knows where his teammates are. His passing has been crisp and on the money as he has set up Helenius and Koivunen for numerous goals already in this tournament. As Ray Ferraro has said nearly every second sentence when talking about prospects this tournament, you can’t hurt your ranking here, but you could definitely help it.
The ‘Easy’ Games Are Over
From here on out, every game that Team Finland plays will only increase in importance and difficulty. With Austria and Germany out of the way, they will wrap up the preliminary round against Czechia and Canada, games that on paper should be much more difficult than their two games to open. This is why there should be a greater focus on the way they start games. As the Canadians learned in their game with Czechia, if you start slow, they can and will take advantage. They are not pushovers, and if you take them lightly, they will upset you.
Then, of course, they will play the Canadians. Everyone knows what they bring to the table, and those mistakes that have gone unpunished against the low-threat Austrians and Germans will be punished if Mason McTavish or Connor Bedard are given those same chances. Those two games will decide who takes first in the pool, something that both Canada and Finland will desperately want.
A Much Deserved Day of Rest
The first two games have been fruitful for the Finnish who currently sit atop the pool with six points. It’s almost certain that they will enter day four tied with Canada who plays Austria in their second game, but that’s what everyone expects. Neither team has blinked just yet, and they will meet on New Year’s Eve in a game that will likely decide the winner in the pool. For now, the Finns can relax in the hotel knowing that they have done everything they have needed to do, and while there are still improvements to be made, their issues are completely correctable.
All the 2022 World Junior Championship Team Information:
Austria – Team Preview – Roster
Canada – Team Preview – Roster
Czech Republic – Team Preview – Roster
Finland – Team Preview – Roster
Germany – Team Preview – Roster
Russia – Team Preview – Roster
Slovakia – Team Preview – Roster
Sweden – Team Preview – Roster
United States – Team Preview – Roster
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Currently a journalism student at Algonquin College in Ottawa, I have always had a passion for the OHL and the Ottawa 67’s in particular. I have been attending games since I was young, and being involved with sports has always been a dream of mine. Sports writing fits perfectly into that. You can also find me talking and writing other sports (primarily Canadian football) on my website 13thmansports.ca!