Ville Heinola, the Finnish national hockey team defender under the age of 20, left the pitch in the final round against Canada.
The Young Lions lost their last group stage game against Canada in the 1-4 World Championships in Edmonton. Finland placed second in its block and will continue its games in the semi-finals against Sweden or the United States after the break. The opponent will survive early Saturday morning Finnish time.
The biggest concern of the losing game was the injury of Finland’s number one defender Ville Heinola. Heinola got Connor McMichael’s shot in the final set. He left the costume shelter and did not return to play.
Finland’s head coach Antti Pennanen did not know immediately after the match how severe the injury was.
– I can’t say yet if Ville will play in the semi-finals. I argue that pretty badly he gets hurt if he doesn’t play, Pennanen said.
Heinola is a significant player in Finland. He leads Finland’s defense and plays in the number one force of the Young Lions.
Heinola, who is playing his third World Cup, has watched an average of 21.55 minutes of ice time per match. Heinola is also the only Finnish player who already has experience in the NHL.
Even before the tournament, Yle Sports’ hockey expert Juha Juujärvi emphasized that the Finnish team could not tolerate leading players’ injuries. Last year, Young Lions center number one Rasmus Kupari was injured in the tournament’s first match. According to Juujärvi, Finland’s opportunities for medal games melted into that injury.
– Yes, it is a catastrophic situation if he has to leave the race at this stage. The importance of Heinola and other leading players is emphasized in the playoffs. With their strong example, Finland has resolved situations and achieved good successes, Juujärvi said.
Head coach Pennanen threw Finnish vice-captain Mikko Kokkonen to replace Heinola if Heinola is unable to continue the tournament.
– Mikko is probably not the fastest to move, but when he has a good head and temperament and stays as calm as he is today in the Canadian press, he is one option.
Finland’s superiority has performed excellently in the World Cup tournament. All but one of the young Lions’ superiority goals have been scored by Juuso Pärssinen, Brad Lambert, Aku Räty, Henri Nikkanen, and Topi Niemelä. The superiority week also made Finland’s only hit against Canada with force.