After last night’s 7-5 win over the Laval Rocket, Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci confirmed that rookie forward Janne Kuokkanen will be playing in next week’s World Junior Championship.
The 19-year-old will represent his home country of Finland in the prestigious tournament for players under the age of 20 that kicks off Dec. 26 in Buffalo.
“It’s a big thing for me,” said Kuokkanen. “I’ve been dreaming all my life to play for Team Finland. Now I have the chance.”
The group play portion of the tournament takes place from Dec. 26 to Dec. 31, with the elimination games going from Jan. 2 to Jan. 5. The Checkers play three games during that span and another two immediately following it.
“It’s a really good opportunity for him to play in a world class tournament,” said Vellucci.
Of Finland’s preliminary group of players in contention to make the WJC team, Kuokkanen was the only skater playing at the pro level in North America. The forward made the NHL out of training camp, logging four games with Carolina before jumping to Charlotte where he has racked up 14 points in 19 games with the Checkers.
“I want to show everybody what I got,” said Kuokkanen. “Show everyone that I’m the leader there.”