Helsinki, Finland - Vili Saarijärvi is returning to Flint, Michigan with a Gold Medal. On Tuesday afternoon, Finland beat Russia 1:33 into overtime to earn the Finns their second World Junior Championship Gold Medal in three years.
The World Junior Championships (WJC), commonly known simply as the World Juniors, is an annual event organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) for the 10 best national under-20 ice hockey teams from around the world. It is traditionally held in late December, ending in the first week of January.
With the game tied 2-2 and the entire Firebirds team watching from their dressing room at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint, Saarijärvi faked a shot from the point, walked around the Russian forward and fired the puck on net prior to Mikko Rantanen deflecting the disc into the cage, giving the Finns a 3-2 lead with 2:09 remaining in the contest.
Russia would tie the score 3-3 with 6.9 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime. Then, while in overtime, Kasperi Kapanen caught the Russian netminder out of the cage and scored on a wrap-around goal earning the Finns the 2016 WJC Gold Medal.
In seven games of the WJC, Saarijärvi earned four assists, two penalty minutes and tallied 11 shots on goal for Finland.
In his first season in the Ontario Hockey League, the 2015 Detroit Red Wings draft pick has appeared in 28 games for the Flint Firebirds recording five goals and 14 assists for 19 points. Before leaving for the WJC, Saarijärvi was 11th in points among all defenseman in the OHL.
Saarijärvi is expected to return back to the Firebirds lineup on Friday, January 8th when Flint battles the London Knights for the first time in a nationally televised game on Sportsnet at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario.
Copyright 2016 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.