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Islanders Prospects Go Head to Head, Dufour Gets Last Laugh



New York Islanders, William Dufour
New York Islanders prospect William Dufour celebrates after scoring an empty-net goal to give Canada a 6-3 lead over Finland.

The New York Islanders had four prospects play on Monday night when Canada faced Finland. Aatu Räty, Eetu Liukas, Matias Rajaniemi and Wiliam Dufour all suited up.

Aatu Räty remained on the top line for Finland, as he entered the contest with the second-most points so far at the World Junior Championships. William Dufour has been a staple on Canada’s third line, as his job was shutting down Räty.

Eetu Liukas played his usual fourth-line role while Matias Rajaniemi was the seventh defenseman for Finland.

It was a critical game for both sides as it was the final round-robin game, and Canada led Group A by just a point.

After sixty minutes, Canada came away victorious by a score of 6-3 to win Group A and remain undefeated through pool play.

Tiia Honkamaa, who’s covering Finland for Jatkoaika, shared with me what Finnish head coach Antti Pennanen said after the defeat.

“I don’t know what happened after the first five minutes,” Jalonen said. “They scored and we never recovered from it”

Here is the analysis of the New York Islanders prospects from Monday night’s affair:

William Dufour

It was an interesting game for William Dufour against Finland, as he ended the contest with a goal on four shots and a penalty in  15:46 TOI.

Although there was some offense from Dufour, his defensive play was on display throughout, one of his best defensive games of the tournament.

In the first period of the contest, Dufour was forcing turnovers, and his line dominated Aatu Räty and the dangerous Finnish top line.

In the second period, Dufour got on a breakaway after Räty lost the puck while on the man advantage. Dufour could not beat Finnish netminder Merilainen.

Dufour’s penalty, a trip with four minutes to play, allowed Finland to get their third goal of the contest.

Dufour’s goal was an empty-net goal, to give Finland and their fans no chance of mounting what would have been a comeback for the ages.

The fact that Team Canada head coach Dave Cameron had Dufour out on the ice with the empty net showed how he valued Dufour, even after taking a costly penalty.

The same trust is why Dufour was out there killing penalties as well.

Willaim Dufour ends his round-robin play with two goals and three assists in four games.

Aatu Räty

The 19-year-old Finnish forward had been exceptional throughout the tournament, as he entered the contest against Canada with the second-most points in the tournament through his three games.

Despite recording another point, a secondary assist, Aatu Räty ended his night with just one shot on goal in 18:55 TOI.

Early on, thanks to Dufour, Räty and his line struggled to provide the offensive jolt Finland needed against the powerhouse Canadians.

After Finland found themselves down 2-0, Räty elevated his tempo, carrying the puck more and found himself at the center of many long offensive shifts for Finland as he showed off his skating and soft hands.

In the third period, Räty provided a strong zone entry which led to Finland’s third goal of the contest.

The goal was reviewed and quite frankly should have been overturned as the puck went out of play earlier in shift, but nevertheless another point for Räty.

Räty’s passing, which has been on display all tournament long, was still strong in the losing effort, but his skating was not as strong as we had seen.

Also, Räty struggled in the face-off dot Monday night, winning just 40% of his draws, just 10 for 25.

Aatu Räty ended his round-robin play with three goals and six assists in four games, second to Canada’s Mason McTavish, who ended the round-robin with seven goals and six assists.

Eetu Liukas & Matias Rajaniemi

The fourth-line grinder Eetu Liukas knows his role and knows how to play it quite well.

In 13:47 TOI, Liukas did not register a shot on goal but did pick up his first point of the tournament.

His strong board battling allowed for his teammate Kalle Vaisanen to scoop up the loose puck and fed Samuel Helenius for Finland’s first goal of the contest.

With that point, each New York Islanders prospect recorded at least a point through round-robin play.

Matias Rajaniemi, Finland’s seventh defenseman, did not see much ice time in the loss. He played a total of 1:27 minutes in the contest, just two shifts.

Marco D’Amico and Nicole Shirman contributed to this piece