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Aatu Räty Speaks on Gold Medal Loss, What’s Next

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Aatu Räty, New York Islanders

New York Islanders prospects Aatu Räty, Eetu Liukas, and Matias Rajaniemi came less than an inch away from winning a gold medal at the 2022 World Junior Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, on Saturday night.

Instead, another New York Islanders prospect in William Dufour and Team Canada took home the trophy after one of the craziest overtime sequences you will ever see.

It was a backbreaker for Aatu Räty and the rest of Finland, but they put up a heck of a fight against Canada and throughout the tournament.

Räty, the New York Islanders 52nd overall pick at the 2021 NHL Draft, had an exceptional tournament.

He finished tied for fourth in the scoring race, with three goals and seven assists for 10 points in seven games. Even when Finland struggled, Räty tried to put the team on his back.

Despite not collecting a point in the gold medal game, Räty’s demeanor undoubtedly helped keep Finland’s bench confident that the game was not over by any means.

Aatu Räty spoke to Finnish reporter Tiia Honkamaa following the loss. She was kind enough to send me the translations from her piece for Jatkoaika.

“Of course I’m upset we lost, but I’m really proud of how we played,” Aatu Räty said. “The third period was fantastic. It was the comeback of all times. We had plenty of attempts and that awesome penalty kill at the end, and in the game in general.”

“I will say that we won that silver medal. It was a great accomplishment from us.”

As Räty mentioned, Finland headed to the dressing room after forty minutes down 2-0, against a juggernaut in Canada who had just beaten them 6-3 last Monday.

“During the second intermission, we talked that we got to play as good as we can,” Räty said. “We don’t have to hold back because it’s the last game of the tournament. It [the third period] was the best we played this entire tournament.”

And they went out there, played with their hearts on their sleeve, and evened the score with 9:41 left to play in the third. Unfortunately for Finland, they found themselves on the penalty kill often in the third period, a weakness for them throughout the tournament.

Fortunately for Finland, their penalty kill not only did its job but even helped out by drawing a penalty of their own. Fellow Islanders prospect Eetu Liukas drew one on a brilliant read which he turned into a breakaway chance before behind slashed.

“We committed fully to our penalty kill. It was one of our weaknesses at first, which I find odd because we have so many great penalty killers on our team, and we trusted our system. Today [Saturday], we did good and blocked the shots,” Räty said.

And in overtime, Finland, as mentioned, was inches- I mean inches- away from winning gold, but a brilliant effort by Mason McTavish denied Finland’s chance, and his play allowed the puck to go up the ice the other way as Kent Johnson buried the game-winner.

There was a lot of passion in the overtime. We had some good attempts,” Räty said. “I think we ruled the game. Winning was just inches away. So very close.”

Aatu’s brother, Aku, won a bronze medal at the 2021 World Juniors for Finland and Tiia asked him if he had bragging rights now, with the silver.

“Yeah, I do have the brightest medal in the family now, but maybe I won’t bring it up to him any time soon.”

Räty told Tiia following the game that he was going to head home for a few weeks before New York Islanders training camp. This will be his second straight season at camp.

The New York Islanders have not announced the dates for training camp yet.  

Although he will likely play for the Bridgeport Islanders, at least to start the 2022-23 season, he shared pre-tournament that his goal is to make the NHL roster out of camp, but will play wherever they send him.

Since being drafted, Aatu Räty has shown the hockey world that his fall from grace in the draft rankings should never have happened, and the New York Islanders just may have the steal of the draft.

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