Cana­dian ju­niors ready for chal­lenge of Fin­land

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS -

This has been the most try­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of Jake Vir­ta­nen's ca­reer and he couldn't be hap­pier.

Vir­ta­nen is one of four play­ers re­turn­ing from Canada's gold medal-win­ning ju­nior team that won the world cham­pi­onship in Toronto last year. This year's team has strug­gled in the pre­lim­i­nary round of the tour­na­ment and on Satur­day will face the heav­ily favoured host Fin­land in the quar­ter-fi­nals.

“I think this is the most ad­ver­sity I've ever had,” said Vir­ta­nen who hasn't earned a point in four games.

“It's pretty ex­cit­ing, when you're the first time get­ting into a big ad­ver­sity mo­ment for your­self. As a team, it's pretty spe­cial.”

Fin­land poses a par­tic­u­larly steep chal­lenge. For­wards Jesse Pulju­jarvi, Se­bas­tian Aho and Pa­trik Laine are the tour­na­ment's top three scor­ers, lead­ing Fin­land to a 3-1 record to fin­ish sec­ond in Group B.

“They've got a really good team over there, we know that,” said Cana­dian for­ward Mitch Marner af­ter prac­tice on Fri­day.

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