A pair of Buffalo Sabres prospects suited up for Russia today in IIHF World Junior Championship play. In today’s action, Finland defeated Russia 4-1 in a preliminary round matchup that nearly involved a trio of Buffalo Sabres prospects – nearly, if it weren’t for a bit of illness.
Buffalo Sabres prospects Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov were both in the lineup for the Russian squad, while fellow Buffalo Sabres prospect Rasmus Ristolainen was out of the Finland lineup due to what is being reported as a flu bug. Today’s game was the first missed by Ristolainen, and his status going forward is unknown at this point. Montreal Canadiens prospect Artturi Lehkonen was also missing from Finland’s line up with a lower body injury, but despite missing some of their top players, the Finnish team still managed to come out on top.
Grigorenko notched an assist in the loss for Russia, tallying a helper on the team’s first goal in the opening frame, scored by Philadelphia Flyers prospect Valeri Vasiliev. NY Rangers prospect Pavel Buchnevich also had an assist for Russia.
Saku Maenalanen (NSH) later opened the scoring for Finland to tie the game at one. Henrik Haapala and Rasmus Kulmala also scored in the second period for the Finnish team, while Joni Nikko added a fourth goal in the third period. Chicago Blackhawks prospect Teuvo Teravainen had a pair of assists.
Grigorenko improves to five points in three games of the tournament. He has a pair of goals and three assists and is tied with a number of players for third in points scoring in the tournament. Alexander Wennberg and Filip Forsberg both lead the tournament with seven points each in three games.
Grigorenko is tied with Damir Zhafyarov (2-3) for the points lead on the Russian squad.
Zadorov, meanwhile, has two goals and one assist in three games of WJC preliminary round play.
Grigorenko, Zadorov and Ristolainen are the only Buffalo Sabres prospects participating in the World Juniors this year.
J.T. Compher, Buffalo’s 35th overall pick in 2013, was set for a spot on the United States team but was kept out of the tournament after sustaining a foot injury at camp. The left winger has since returned to his college team and has recently returned to the lineup after being listed as week-to-week.
MODO right winger Gustav Possler, who was selected by the Buffalo Sabres 130th overall in 2013, had an opportunity to make the Swedish team, but lingering issues from a knee injury prevented that from actually happening.
Next up for the Russian team is a meeting with Sweden in the final game of the preliminary round on December 31. On that same day, Finland will also face Switzerland before all the teams have a day off on January 1 prior to the start of quarterfinals the following day.