On the second last day of round robin competition, we give you the Finland and Slovakia game prediction. Both teams will have something to play for in this matchup. This contest will judge the gap between a perennial tournament powerhouse, and a team trying to lessen that gap. Team Slovakia is trying to prove they belong in the medal round. Meanwhile, Team Finland will be looking for a chance at the top spot in Group A.
Finland and Slovakia Prediction Look at Slovakia
For Slovakia, overall it has been a disappointing tournament, which is kind of in alignment with expectations coming in. They knew it was going to be a tough tournament. They are without the top two draft picks in this year’s entry draft, Montreal’s Juraj Slafkovsky and New Jersey’s Simon Nemec. However, they have played well, and so far, aside from the Canada game have been quite competitive.
Team Slovakia Goaltending
If Slovakia to have success against Team Finland, their goalie needs to be on his game. Simon Latkoczy is committed to Nebraska-Omaha of the NCAA for the upcoming season. He may be small in stature 6’ even, perhaps why Canada was able to attack. However, he is known for big game success and was outstanding in the USHL playoffs compiling a 15-5-2 record, and a .938 and .911 SV% in two years respectively. Furthermore, in the tournament, he had 47 saves in the opening 5-4 loss to Czechia and stopped 23 of 25 en route to a shootout victory over Latvia.
Prospects Looking to Perform for Slovakia
There are some key skaters that Slovakia needs to perform if they are going to have success against Finland and on-toward the medal round. To begin, Dalibor Dvorsky has done all right in boosting his draft stock in the 2023 draft. His most notable accomplishment is scoring in a tightly contested Latvia game. Next, is Servac Petrovsky, who tallied 28 goals for the Owen Sound Attack this past year. He was hoping a strong tournament would convince the Minnesota Wild they made a wise choice in the 6th round of the 2022 draft. His two points were very important in the matchup with Czechia.
“We have a lot of skill, but we need to work more as a team. Today we didn’t play as a team. Everyone wanted to play his own game. We can’t do that.”
However, Sykora’s game needs to be more consistent, as he was a -3 against Czechia, but bounced back against Latvia, scoring in 20:46 of ice time.
Slovakia’s Top Players Thus Far
Two other Slovaks to watch, we will begin with Rayen Petrovicky, their top D-man. In the Czechia game, he added a goal and an assist. Additionally, he was a difference maker against Latvia with 7 shots in an impressive 26:25 of ice time. Lastly, a player having a strong tournament, and leading the offensive charge for the Slovaks, with 3 goals is Matej Kaslik. Therefore, watch for these players in particular if Slovakia is going to make a run against Finland.
Finland and Slovakia Prediction: Team Finland Deep Dive
Let’s turn to Finland now. They want to use this game as a tune-up for the playoffs and prove to the rest of the world this lineup can contend. Thus far in the tourney, Finland has taken care of business. They got past Czechia, 4-3, and easily handled Latvia.
Strong Performing Prospects
In terms of players to watch out for, the Nashville Predators prospect, Joakim Kemell is high up on the list. He is Finland’s only 2004-born player on the roster, going in the first round of July’s draft. Moreover, he had a big performance against Latvia, tallying two goals and two assists. A teammate he has seen some ice time with is Roby Jarventie. The Ottawa Senator prospect, Jarventie, scored a big power-play goal late in the first period against Czechia, to make the score 2-1. For Sens fans, this helps to make up for the inconsistency of their other prospect, starting goalie Leevi Merilainen.
Finland’s Up and Down Goaltending
Merilainen would like to put in a strong showing to give him some confidence going into the 2022-23 season. Merilainen was Shane Wright’s teammate for the Kingston Frontenacs in 2021-22 and was known for looking shaky at times. In the Czechia game, he struggled to start the game, capped off with a bad angle goal, to make it 1-0 at 6:36 of the first period. However, he was able to turn it around and was visibility energized upon the eventual shootout victory.
Potential Key Contributors for Finland
A few other members of the Finnish side to keep an eye on going into this matchup include Brad Lambert, Aatu Raty, and Topi Niemela. First of all, Brad Lambert was the Jets’ 30th overall selection in the 2022 draft. He has the potential to break out anytime, but so far has underperformed. Next, is Aatu Raty who has had an enormous tournament so far, including four points against Latvia. He only chipped in with one goal against Czechia but played an astonishing 24:12 of ice time. Finally, Niemela won the award as top defenseman in the 2021 WJC tournament. Although his play might not be quite at that level yet, there’s no reason why he can’t elevate his play.
If Slovakia is thinking W, that will have to get the drop on Finland. Which with Merilainen isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. If they can get an early lead, and establish a cycle, they may give Finland some fits. However, if Finland is able to roll its lines and execute its game plan they should have it in the bag.
Prediction: Finland 5 Slovakia 2