Just a couple days after teammate Evan Barratt solidified his spot on Team USA, and a few weeks after initally being named to the preliminary roster, Penn State freshman and New Jersey Devils’ prospect Aarne Talvitie will make his World Junior Championship debut with Finland.
Not only will Talvitie skate with the Finns, but he’ll be serving as their captain. During the WJC’s preliminary matchups, Talvitie was slotted onto the third line and played pretty well. He was often seen saucering great passes and showcasing his great vision and breakaway ability.
Kaapo Kakko (2019, #24) and Aarne Talvitie (NJD, #25) combine for a nice passing play to set Jesse Ylnen (MTL) up for a good powerplay opportunity. pic.twitter.com/1ipW1PcHU2— pelletier, jakob (@DraftLook) December 24, 2018
This is a huge notion to the current state of Penn State’s hockey program and how far it’s come since its inception. To save from soapboxing too much, the recruiting efforts head coach Guy Gadowsky has gone to have truly paid off, and now the organization is yielding incredible results at the international level. Talvitie’s roster spot and captainship now makes two Nittany Lions in the same season to play for their respective countries at the WJC tourney — the first two in the history of the program to do so.
Finland’s roster strength is projected to win its group and ultimately the bronze or silver medal in several models, but it has to wade through competition like the Candians, Russians, Swedes, and Americans. These countries all reign supreme among the tournament’s powers, and it won’t be an easy path to the podium. However, with star goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in net for the Finns, plus a plethora of future NHL-level talent like Rasmus Kupari, Aleksi Heponiemi, and Eeli Tolvanen out on the ice with Talvitie, anything is possible for them.
Finland and the United States play out of Group B. Talvitie and Barratt will face off against each other on New Year’s Eve at 10:30 p.m. EST on NHL Network.