No, it was not Canada, Russia, Sweden, nor, for the second year in-a-row, United States who won the 2014 World Juniors Championship in Malmo. It was Finland, who knocked off the Swedes in the gold medal match, 3-2 in overtime.
Six Nashville Predators prospects participated in a total of thirty-one games. Filip Forsberg highlights the list of future Preds after being awarded ‘Most Valuable Player’ and ‘Top Forward’ in the tournament. The Swedish captain scored twelve points (four goals, eight assists) in seven games. Arguably, Forsberg’s best goal was against Russia in the semifinals. Watch below.
Four of the six prospects in the WJC were Finnish, including forward Saku Maenalanen, defenseman Mikko Vainonen, and goalies Janne Juvonen and Juuse Saros. Maenalanen finish third in scoring (second on the team) with seven goals, four assists in seven games with a +9 rating. Below is one of his preliminary games against Russia.
Vainonen was efficient at defense for the Finns with a +1 rating and two assists in seven games.
Janne Juvonen was the third goaltender in the rotation for Team Finland and was unable to play in any of the contests. However, Juuse Saros received six starts, going 5-1-0 with a 1.57 goals against average and .934 save percentage. Saros, a fourth round draft pick in 2013, appears to be the future of the Predators in between the pipes. Underneath is an interview after winning gold.
Donning the red, white and blue was Zach Stepan for the second consecutive year. Stepan and Team USA exited the tournament fairly early for anyone’s liking, losing to Russia in the quarterfinals 5-3. The 2012 fourth rounder played in just four games after being injured early in the tournament, although he did return, and totaled two assists. Stepan wasn’t the US’s offensive source by far, but head coach Don Lucia used him effectively as a grinder.