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2014 World Junior Championship: Ristolainen scores Golden Goal, wins Best Defenseman award

It’s hard to make a huge impression in a tournament that lasts a little over a week, and features many of the best young prospects in the entire world. You gotta be good, I mean really good, and maybe make a gigantic play every now and then.

Rasmus Ristolainen did just that yesterday in Sweden, scoring the Golden Goal in overtime to give Finland a 3-2 victory over the Swedes, just moments after it was announced that he was a recipient of the Directorate Award for the best defenseman in the tournament.

Think he made enough of an impression?

Ristolainen’s goal, which you can see in the video below, was a beauty and featured the big defenseman doing something he did often to the tournament – bringing the puck deep and driving to the net. He was also named the the media All-Star Team, as one of the two defensemen.

You might know the other defenseman named to the media All-Stars, Nikita Zadorov. Yes, the two defensemen the Sabres drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft were named by the media as the best U-20 defensemen in the world, at least in this short tournament. Zadorov was an offensive force throughout the tournament, scoring four goals to power the Russian team to bronze.

Not to be outdone, Zadorov’s teammate Mikhail Grigorenko led the Russian squad with five goals, and added three assists to finish ninth in the tournament in scoring. He was also named one of the Russian teams Top Three players by their coaches.

With the tournament over, Zadorov will return to the London Knights, Ristolainen should return to the Amerks, but may be called up with Tyler Myers‘ impending suspension, while Mikhail Grigorenko will return to either the Sabres press box or the Quebec Remparts. We should know more about exactly where these guys will return to later today.

Next year’s WJC will take place in Canada, so get excited for the incredible pressure the Canadians will put on their 18-year-olds. What did you guys think of the Buffalo prospects?

Talking Points