NY Islanders Aatu Räty and Finland top Czechia in shootout

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The revenge tour continues for Aatu Räty. The 2021 NY Islanders draft pick helped propel Finland of Czechia in their second game of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships scoring a third-period goal and giving Finland the lead midway through the third period. Eetu Liukas, drafted in the fifth round of the 2021 draft by the Islanders, also made his tournament debut.

Räty remained Finland's first-line center after his four-point performance against Latvia on Tuesday, still wedged between Roni Hirvonen and Joakim Kemell. Down 2-0 in the first period, Räty had a prime scoring chance forcing a turnover in Czechia's slot, however, Czech goaltender Jan Bednár stopped the scoring chance with the blocker. It was a heads-up play on the forecheck to force the turnover creating the scoring chance.

Räty later made a good defensive play in his own zone retrieving the puck along the boards, starting a breakout rush going toward Czechia's end, and sprung through the neutral zone with great speed resulting in Hirvonen's pass being called offsides. It might sound like a missed opportunity, however, Räty's display of speed is an excellent sign of the improved pass of play for the Islanders' top prospect.

Midway through the third period, Finland and Czechia were tied at two apiece before Hirvonen retrieved the puck on the Czech goal line and fed Räty in the right circle. Räty quickly snapped the puck above the pad and below the blocker of Bednár to give Finland a 3-2 lead. The lead lasted all of two minutes before Czech Jan Mysak tied things again at three.

Finland sealed the deal in the shootout and is now 2-0 in the tournament. After Räty's four-point performance against Latvia, some still questioned his performance given Latvia is likely the weakest team in the tournament. Räty's performance against Czechia surely should have silenced the doubters.

Räty is tied with linemate Kemell for the tournament lead in points with five (two goals, three assists each). Finland has the next two days off before taking on Slovakia next this Sunday.

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