2022 World Junior Championships Predictions: Austria vs. Finland

2022 world junior championships
Spread the love

If Day Two of the 2022 World Junior Championships is anywhere as exciting as Day One, this slate of games won’t disappoint. The high-end skill of players like Matvei Michkov and Owen Power was on full display yesterday in Edmonton and Red Deer. Today, the four-game slate opens with a Group A game between Austria and Finland.

2022 World Junior Championships Predictions

Austria vs. Finland

Austria plays their first game of the tournament against a Finland team that’s coming off a 3-1 win against Germany just yesterday. Playing the first game of the day for two straight days, Finland does get a favourable matchup against Austria, likely the weakest team in the tournament. Finland and Austria didn’t meet at last year’s World Juniors, so it’ll be the first time in a while that these two countries have faced off at this level. Austria’s goal here during the group stage is to win a game – something they haven’t done at the top level in the history of the tournament. It’s actually their first time appearing in back-to-back WJCs, mostly due to the lack of relegation last year.

Team Austria

At first glance, Austria is much less of a threat in 2022 than in 2021 as Marco Rossi is no longer available for them. Yet still, there are some players worth keeping an eye on. There’s another Marco – Marco Kasper, that is. The 17-year-old 2022-draft-eligible centre is easily worth a look in the mid-to-late first round. Playing with Rögle BK in the SHL, he’s got six points through 24 games, decent production for someone his age in that league. The offence likely revolves around him and Vinzenz Rohrer, another 2022-eligible forward who’s impressing in his first season in North America (22 points in 28 games with the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s).

Returning in goal for the Austrians is Sebastian Wraneschitz, who had a .892 save percentage in three games during last year’s tournament. On defence, a potential name of interest is David Reinbacher, a 2023-draft-eligible right-shot who’s got eight assists through 17 games this season with EHC Kloten in the SL. If Austria is to produce anything against a Finnish team that plays hard, it’s going to come from these players.

Team Finland

Finland opened their 2022 World Junior Championships with a 3-1 win against Germany yesterday, jumping out to a solid start in group play. Samuel Helenius (Los Angeles Kings) and 2022-eligible Brad Lambert led the way with two points each, while Leevi Meriläinen (Ottawa Senators) was strong in net with 23 saves on 24 shots. They’ll need a better all-around effort today, though, as they were actually outshot 24-22 by the Germans. Finland played their trademark hard-forechecking game, but Germany was up to the task defensively for most of the game. If Austria can frustrate them in the same way, they’re a few unlucky bounces away from a gigantic upset.

The Finns did get a good game out of their defence, led all the way by Topi Niemelä (Toronto Maple Leafs) who played 21:32 in the win. Captain Roni Hirvonen (Toronto Maple Leafs) left the game with an injury, though, and his status is something to keep an eye out for. After sitting last game, Joel Blomqvist (Pittsburgh Penguins) could get the start in goal. He’s been great with a .964 save percentage in eight games with Kärpät in the top Finnish league. All they need is their same trademark consistency, and the deep Finland roster should roll their way to a 2-0-0 start at the World Juniors.

Prediction

Everyone loves a good David vs. Goliath story, no doubt about it. The reality is that the Austrians, while they have some intriguing names, don’t have the star power or depth to give them an edge against really any team in this tournament. It’s especially true against Finland, an experienced and skilled team designed to wear down their opponents. While the Austrians still search for their first win at this tournament, it likely won’t be coming tonight.

Prediction: Finland wins 7-1.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images