Photo: Micheline Michaelina - Rochester Americans

Luukkonen selected to Finland's World Junior preliminary roster

The Sabres' second round pick in 2017 is one of three goalies on the roster

Brayton Wilson
December 04, 2017 - 10:34 am

With the IIHF World Junior Championship just a few weeks away, the 10 nations competing will start to put together their preliminary roster before the start of the tournament on December 26th in Buffalo.

Finland is the first team to have announced their preliminary roster of 28 players, and Buffalo Sabres prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is one of three goalies listed for their training camp. If Luukkonen makes the final 23-man roster, it will be the first time in his career that he will compete at the Under-20 tournament.

Luukkonen, 18, has posted some decent numbers this season playing with LeKi in Mestis, Finland's second-tier professional league. In 15 games played this season, Luukkonen has posted a 2.93 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.

Buffalo's second round pick (54th overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft already has quite the track record with Finland at the international level. Luukkonen has played in the last two IIHF Under-18 World Championships for Finland, posting a 2.45 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage in nine combined games. In 2016, Luukkonen led Finland to a gold medal run over the Sweden at the tournament held in Grand Forks, North Dakota. This past year in Slovakia, Luukkonen and the Finns were upended by the United States in the gold medal game.

Luukkonen is one of three new goalies on the roster from last year's Finnish team. He will compete for game action with 19-year old Niilo Halonen and 18-year old Lassi Lehtinen. Luukkonen is the only goalie who was drafted by a NHL team.

In the Under-20 tournament last season in Canada, Finland ended up in the relegation round against Latvia after winning gold at the World Juniors in 2016 on home soil. Finland faced some uncharacteristic losses in group play to teams like Denmark and the Czech Republic, but managed to remain in the top division by relegating Latvia to Division I.

Finland will compete in Group A this year, which also contains the United States, Canada, Denmark and Slovakia. Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Belarus will compete in Group B.

Here is the complete 28-man preliminary roster for Finland:


Goalies:

 1  - Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (Buffalo Sabres)

30 - Lassi Lehtinen

31 - Niilo Halonen


Defense:

 2  - Miro Heiskanen (Dallas Stars)*

 4  - Robin Salo (New York Islanders)

 5  - Eemeli Rasanen

 6  - Juuso Valimaki (Calgary Flames)*

 7  - Olli Juolevi (Vancouver Canucks)*

23 - Urho Vaakanainen (Boston Bruins)*

25 - Roope Laavainen (Chicago Blackhawks)

28 - Henri Jokiharju (Chicago Blackhawks)

36 - Kasper Kotkansalo (Detroit Red Wings)

 

Forwards:

 3  - Juha Jaaska

 9  - Janne Kuokkanen (Carolina Hurricanes)*

10 - Jerry Turkulainen

12 - Otto Koivula (New York Islanders)*

13 - Kristian Vesalainen (Winnipeg Jets)*

15 - Joona Koppanen (Boston Bruins)

18 - Sami Moilanen

19 - Eetu Tuulola (Calgary Flames)

20 - Eeli Tolvanen (Nashville Predators)*

21 - Markus Nurmi (Ottawa Senators)

22 - Aapeli Rasanen (Edmonton Oilers)*

29 - Eetu Luostarinen (Carolina Hurricanes)

32 - Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida Panthers)

33 - Jere Innala

34 - Rasmus Kupari (2018 Draft Eligible)


* - Played on 2017 Finland team

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