Penn State Hockey’s Aarne Talvitie, Evan Barratt Look Back On World Junior Experience
Penn State men’s hockey forwards Evan Barratt and Aarne Talvitie are back in Happy Valley following the 2019 U-20 World Junior Championship in Western Canada.
Both of the Nittany Lions’ representatives at the tournament brought a bit of hardware back to Happy Valley with them, with Finland edging the United States in the final. Talvitie became the sixth college hockey player to captain his country to a gold medal and Barratt won silver as Team USA capped off its fourth consecutive medal-winning performance at the tournament.
Penn State’s first-ever representatives at the World Junior Championship battled it out for the gold medal in one of the most competitive games of the tournament. As the saying goes, however, what happens in
Vegas Vancouver stays in Vegas Vancouver.
Barratt said he and Talvitie made the transition from international rivals to teammates and looked past the gold medal game immediately.
The sophomore even recalled making a comment about how the two players are even in the handshake line following the gold medal game, in reference to his previous gold-medal game victory over Talvitie’s Finland at the 2017 U-18 World Junior Championship.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky said he planned to sit down with both players to see what they learned from the tournament, but one of Barratt’s main takeaways from the tournament was how physically grueling it was.
“I didn’t realize how tough it was going to be until I tried to get out of bed [on Sunday],” he said. “It’s been a long month, but I know [Penn State’s trainers and doctors] are taking care of me really well here.”
The United States played seven games over the course of the 10-day tournament, including contests on back-to-back nights at the end of the preliminary stages and in the medal round. To make matters worse, Barratt had just a few days to re-adjust before playing another back-to-back series for Penn State last weekend.
Outside of winning the gold medal, Finland’s most impressive accomplishment at the tournament may have come in the quarterfinal round against the host nation.
The Finns upset Canada in front of a capacity crowd to move on to the medal round against Switzerland. Talvitie played a huge role in that game, picking up the primary assist on Toni Utunen’s game-winning goal in overtime.
“That was the game. That changed the whole tournament for us,” he said. “It was such a big accomplishment for us as a team, and as a nation. It was huge. It felt like we had already won the tournament.”
Talvitie spent the first week of the spring semester celebrating and recovering in Finland before returning stateside over the weekend. He suffered a season-ending lower body injury in the gold medal game, but the gold medal and returning to a “mind-blowing” reception in his home country made it all worth it.
“[The feeling of winning a gold medal] is hard to explain,” Talvitie said. “Of course, it was definitely the best moment of my life so far. There’s no other feeling like that.”
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Ryan Field was a sea of white in the Nittany Lions’ week five return to Illinois on Saturday.
No location or opening timeline has been released yet.
The schedule is highlighted by a Monday night dual against Rutgers at the Bryce Jordan Center in February.