What's buzzing:

Buzzing The Net

World junior championship: Ristolainen wants redemption for Finland

Sunaya Sapurji
Buzzing The Net

View photo

.

Buffalo Sabres defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen

MALMO, Sweden — When it comes to the world junior championship, the regrets still weigh heavy on Rasmus Ristolainen’s mind.

At last year’s tournament in Ufa, Russia, Team Finland was heavily favoured and hyped, based on their lineup and exhibition play. They had a number of highly touted prospects – Markus Granlund, Joel Armia, Sasha Barkov and, of course, Ristolainen.

Finland’s championship run ended in disaster. The Young Lions found themselves playing in the relegation round with the likes of Latvia, Slovakia and Germany. They finished a dismal seventh place.

It was an embarrassment and one Ristolainen has not forgotten. The big defenceman is back again this year and, as the eighth-overall pick at the June entry draft, he’s the most prominent name returning to Finland’s lineup. He’s adamant about preventing history from repeating itself this year in Sweden.

“It’s very important,” said the 19-year-old, who started the season in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres. “We are trying to show that we are a way better team than last year and that we can play way better hockey.

“It was a big disappointment last year and it’s not going to happen again.”

The first round pick of the Sabres was sent back to the Finnish junior team after suffering a concussion in the first week of December while playing in the American Hockey League for the Rochester Americans. He says he’s feeling “normal” again and is excited to be back playing for Finland.

“It’s very nice to be here,” said Ristolainen. “I was injured for a couple of weeks, so it’s nice to be back and come to the tournament where we can win something big.”

The Young Lions opened the tournament with a 5-1 victory over Norway – a team bumped up to the top WJC tier for the first time since 2011. For the most part, the Finns looked flat, soft and small against an opponent they should have very easily dominated. Russia, in their opener against Norway, crushed the rookie Norwegians 11-0. Finland was to play powerhouse Sweden next on Saturday, a team they will have no trouble finding another gear for given their rivalry.

After last year’s failure, the expectations aren’t nearly as high for Finland this time around. However, that hasn’t changed the kind of expectations Ristolainen has for his team.

“Maybe don’t have that kind of pressure from the media,” said the 6-foot-4, 219-pound blueliner. “But we know in the locker room we have a very good team and we can challenge for this (title).”

The native of Turku, Finland, says pressure or not, it doesn’t change the way he perceives what his team is capable of achieving at the tournament.

“Personally, I don’t think about that and I don’t care about that,” said Ristolainen, of the pressure on the Finns. “So I don’t think it makes any difference.”

The only thing that will make a difference for him and his teammates is finding redemption in 2014.

“There are a lot of guys who played (at the world junior championship) last year,” said Ristolainen.

“Everybody knows it feels awful.”

View Comments (0)
  • Sheffield United sack Clough

    Sheffield United sack Clough

    Sheffield United have sacked manager Nigel Clough and his staff, the League One club announced on Monday. A statement on the third tier club's website (www.Sufc.co.uk) said that "a change in direction was necessary for the forthcoming season". … More »

    Reuters - 8 minutes ago
  • Boult shines as New Zealand bowl out England for 478

    Boult shines as New Zealand bowl out England for 478

    By Ed Osmond LONDON (Reuters) - New Zealand left-arm seamer Trent Boult picked up the last four wickets in under an hour to dismiss England for 478 on the final day of the first test at Lord's on Monday. England resumed on 429 for six and Boult … More »

    Reuters - 10 minutes ago
  • Real coach Ancelotti to have surgery on neck condition

    Real coach Ancelotti to have surgery on neck condition

    Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti is suffering from cervical stenosis and will travel to Vancouver, Canada for an operation to correct it, the Italian was quoted as saying on Monday. Ancelotti is waiting to hear whether he will be replaced as Real … More »

    Reuters - 11 minutes ago
  • Berdych storms into French Open second round

    Berdych storms into French Open second round

    PARIS (Reuters) - Czech fourth seed Tomas Berdych bulldozed his way into the second round of the French Open by thrashing Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka 6-0 7-5 6-3 on Monday. Berdych, who is on a quarter-final collision course with another … More »

    Reuters - 14 minutes ago
  • Tennis-Berdych storms into French Open second round

    PARIS, May 25 (Reuters) - Czech fourth seed Tomas Berdych bulldozed his way into the second round of the French Open by thrashing Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka 6-0 7-5 6-3 on Monday. Berdych, who is on a quarter-final collision course with … More »

    Reuters - 25 minutes ago