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Oilers prospect Rajala fits in with the WHL

by Kristi Hennessy / Edmonton Oilers
Toni Rajala's Brandon Wheat Kings faced off against the Edmonton Oil Kings on Monday afternoon. (photo: Dylan Lynch / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)

18-year-old Finnish gem Toni Rajala, made his WHL debut on Wednesday October 7th against the visiting Calgary Hitmen. He didn’t waste any time getting on the board as he tallied an assist on his first night. Rajala has been sidelined with a knee injury since he arrived in Manitoba last month. He suffered the injury playing with the Finnish National Junior Team in August.
Rajala and the Brandon Wheat Kings were at Rexall Place Monday afternoon for the first and only meeting with the Oil Kings this season. He was keen to talk with us about his season with the Wheat Kings and playing in the Memorial Cup.

Rajala says that having the chance to play in the Memorial Cup did help his decision of playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings this season. He feels that his speed from playing in Finland will help him when learning the North American Hockey style.

“Of course, we are the host team for the Memorial Cup! But we’re going to have to play better. We have lost three games now so today we have to win.” Rajala said.

“I have to get a little bit stronger. This game is a little faster and I think that has helped me a lot.” He said about playing in the WHL.

Toni Rajala, signed a three-year entry level contract with the Oilers after being drafted by the club in the fourth round, 101st overall, at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He was taken by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the 14th overall selection of the 2009 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.

The 5’10”, 163-pound right winger from Parkano, Finland, is coming off a great season having played on four different teams. He played on three different junior levels and then onto Ilves Tampere of the Finnish Elite League, playing in 21 games with two goals and three assists for five points.

Rajala played for Finland in three international tournaments, including the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championship and the 2009 World Under-18 Hockey Championships in Fargo, North Dakota, where he was named the tournament’s top forward with 10 goals and nine assists in six games. He played on a line with Mikael Granlund and Teemu Pulkkinen. Rajala's 19 points was one more than Ovechkin scored at the 2002 tournament.

Rajala finished with a tournament-best plus-10, and his shootout goal in a 5-4 win against Canada clinched the bronze medal for Finland. Be sure to follow Toni Rajala on this year’s World Junior Championships in Saskatchewan.
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