Finnish netminder and Avalanche prospect Sami Aittokallio
will be remembered as one of the standout players at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The 19-year-old from Tampere, Finland, led his country to a fourth-place finish and ranked among the tournament's leaders in several categories.
Aittokallio finished the tournament with a 3-2-0 record, .937 save percentage (third overall) and a 2.52 goals-against average in 310 minutes played (fourth overall).
Aittokallio’s first start was on December 28 against Team USA, a game that, for the most part, was dominated by the Americans. But Aittokallio saved 38-of-39 shots in total, including 30-of-31 over the final two periods to give Finland a 4-1 victory.
His second start was a 4-0 shutout victory over the Czech Republic on December 31. Aittokallio turned aside all 36 shots to improve his record to 2-0 in the tournament.
Sami’s third win (in as many starts) came on January 2, as Team Finland held off Slovakia in a wild 8-5 victory, giving them a berth in the semi-finals. Aittokallio made 24 saves on 29 shots to improve his record to 3-0.
Aittokallio's fourth start was in a semi-final matchup with Sweden. The winner of this game advanced to the gold medal game (Russia defeated Canada, 6-5, in the other semi-final match). Sweden threw everything but the proverbial kitchen sink at Aittokallio, who faced 34 shots through the first two periods alone. In the end, it was a shootout goal by Max Friberg that sealed the victory for Sweden, the final score being 3-2. Aittokallio finished the game with an astonishing 55 saves on 58 shots.
Aittokallio's fifth start was a bronze-medal matchup against Team Canada. Fresh off a defeat against Team Russia, Team Canada peppered Aittokallio with 44 shots, 38 of which occurred in the first two periods, combined. Finland eventually lost the contest, 4-0, finishing fourth in the tournament.
All together, Aittokallio stopped 193-of-206 shots. His 193 saves ranked tied for second overall and the 206 shots faced were third-most in the tournament.
Aittokallio was Colorado’s fifth selection (fourth round, 107th overall), in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He is currently playing for Ilves in Finland’s top professional ice hockey league (SM-liiga), posting a 1-4-3 record with a 2.74 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in eight appearances.
Aittokallio appeared in 16 games for Ilves in 2010-11, where he posted a 5-8-0 record with a 2.73 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. He also appeared in six games for Ilves Jr.
Aittokallio represented his country at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo. He appeared in one game during the tournament, stopping all seven shots he faced in 20 minutes of action.