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Topi Niemelä and Roni Hirvonen named to Team Finland for the WJC

This is just the preliminary roster, but there’s no question they’ll make the cut.

Finland v Sweden: Quarterfinals - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship
Ah, here they are fighting a Swede together. That’s teamwork!
Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Today Finland announced their roster for the 2022 World Junior Championships in Red Deer, Alberta. This is their longer, preliminary roster, and it will be cut down before they begin play on December 26.

Both of the Maple Leafs picks from 2020 are on the roster as expected. Both played last year for Team Finland where they won a bronze medal.

Maalivahdit:
1 Meriläinen Leevi, Kingston Frontenacs, OHL
30 Blomqvist Joel, Kärpät Oulu
31 Jatkola Juha, KalPa Kuopio

Puolustajat:
3 Rafkin Ruben, TPS Turku
4 Ottavainen Ville, JYP Jyväskylä
6 Viro Eemil, TPS Turku
7 Niemelä Topi, Kärpät Oulu
10 Puutio Kasper, KalPa Kuopio
15 Nurmi Petteri, HPK Hämeenlinna
21 Heimosalmi Aleksi, Ässät Pori
25 Määttä Rami, Ässät Pori

Hyökkääjät:
13 Järventie Roby, Belleville Senators, AHL
19 Mäenpää Juuso, KalPa Kuopio
20 Helenius Samuel, JYP Jyväskylä
22 Hirvonen Roni, HIFK Helsinki
23 Väisänen Kalle, TPS Turku
24 Koivunen Ville, Kärpät Oulu
27 Kapanen Oliver, KalPa Kuopio
28 Päivärinta Sami, Lukko Rauma
29 Simontaival Kasper, KalPa Kuopio
32 Määttä Joel, Univ. of Vermont
33 Lambert Brad, JYP Jyväskylä
34 Räty Aatu, Jukurit Mikkeli
35 Nikupeteri Olli, Luleå, Ruotsi
37 Kemell Joakim, JYP Jyväskylä

Roni Hirvonen is playing for HIFK this year, where he has 13 points in 26 games played. Topi Niemelä is having a breakout year for points with Kärpät, where he has 22 points in 27 games, fuelled by top power play unit usage. That’s very impressive for a junior on a good team. Niemelä is seventh in the Liiga in points — not for players his age — for any player.

Last year at the WJC, Hirvonen was insulated by Anton Lundell, now with the Panthers, and Niemelä played second pair behind Ville Heinola, now being kept in the minors by the Jets. This year, with both of them 19, they will be expected to lead the team.

Finland doesn’t want a bronze again, they want to challenge for gold.