Penn State’s Barratt and Talvitie Shine in World Junior Championships
During the midseason break, Penn State hockey standouts Evan Barratt and Aarne Talvitie were not preparing for the final stretch of Big Ten conference play along with their teammates. The two forwards became the first Nittany Lions to ever represent their countries in the IIHF World Junior Championships. The tournament is notorious for showcasing some of the best talent hockey has to offer prior to their entrance into the NHL. Barratt and Talvitie were certainly no slouches, helping their respective nations of the United States and Finland reach the Gold Medal game, catching plenty of attention and making significant strides for the Penn State hockey program along the way.
Barratt hit the ground running in the USA’s opening game of group play. He earned player of the game honors for the Americans, after his crucial role in both goals scored in a 2-1 win against Slovakia. The centerman began the tournament on the top power play unit. He screened the vision of the Slovak goalie Samuel Hlavaj to allow a Mikey Anderson shot from the point to beat the netminder. Barratt then took matters into his own hands, collecting the puck at the boards before skating in and flipping a highlight reel backhand shot over Hlavaj and clinching the victory for the United States.
The rest of Barratt’s tournament was rather quiet. Despite demonstrating impressive stickhandling skill and beating defenders in the open ice, the chances he created just weren’t being converted to goals or assists. After starting off the Gold Medal game by drawing a tripping penalty and winning the Americans a power play, Barratt went to the box himself for goalie interference. The Fins scored on the ensuing power play, which ultimately cost the USA in a one-goal contest.
Still, Barratt took great pride in his silver medal and representing his country. He also showed a classy embrace of Talvitie and congratulated him on winning gold.
As previously mentioned, Talvitie had himself an incredibly successful tournament. He was named captain of the Finnish side and led them to their third World Junior gold medal in the past six years. Beyond his leadership skills, Talvitie was one of Finland’s most productive scorers as well. He was second on the team with seven points (four goals, three assists), which included a primary assist in overtime of a monumental quarterfinal upset over Canada in Vancouver.
Talvitie’s perseverance and pride for his country was well on display in the gold medal game. Despite clearly struggling on the ice with an ankle injury, he remained in the game. It was well worth his efforts in the end, as Talvitie was able to lift the trophy with his teammates and become just the sixth NCAA men’s ice hockey player to captain his team to World Junior gold.
Both Barratt and Talvitie look to rejoin the Nittany Lions for this weekend’s series against Michigan State. While Barratt has already rejoined the team, Talvitie is still currently taking time to celebrate Finland’s triumph back in his home nation. While it is probable for Talvitie to return for the weekend, there has been no recent updates on the severity of his ankle injury and if he will be ready to play by Friday night’s series opener.
Despite the complications and fatigue Barratt and Talvitie may feel in the upcoming series, along with the Nittany Lions offensive struggles in their absence last weekend, the success of the two Nittany Lions is a huge stepping stone towards the already incredible growth of the Penn State men’s ice hockey program.
When asked about the success of both Talvitie and himself, Barratt said, “It shows you how great a university and how great the hockey team is so far.”
Despite its brief history at the Division I level, if coach Guy Gadowsky can keep developing Nittany Lions such as Barratt and Talvitie, the World Junior Championships should get used to seeing a lot more Nittany Lions down the road.
Andre Magaro is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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