In a very short time, Mikko Rantanen has forced his way into the hearts of Colorado Avalanche fans around the world. The 21-year old winger had a breakout season in 2017-18 and should now be counted as a legitimate star in the NHL. Unfortunately, that makes things complicated for Avalanche fans tomorrow morning - at least the ones in America.
Bright and early tomorrow at the IIHF World Championship, Mikko Rantanen will lead Team Finland in their final preliminary round game against the USA. Thanks to an extremely early faceoff at 4:15am MDT - 1:15 in Mikko’s home of Nousianen, Finland - most fans in Denver will be able to just ignore the game so they don’t have to cheer against #96.
With three points on the line, a regulation win for Finland would give them first place in Group B - any other outcome would result in USA grabbing the top spot.
After an incredible season, Rantanen has carried his hot play into the World Championship. Acting as an assistant captain for a high-flying Finnish team, Mikko has three goals and eight points through the first six games of the tournament.
Team takes a 3-1 lead late in the 1st period, as Mikko Rantanen strikes again and chases Curtis McElhinney from the game on the PP. McElhinney allows 3 goals on 8 shots.#IIHFWorlds pic.twitter.com/6WnipcK7NX— TSN (@TSN_Sports) May 12, 2018
Rantanen had his best game of the tournament in a two-goal effort against Canada last week. He gets up for the biggest competition, so we shouldn’t be surprised if he does some damage against the Americans.
Team USA has looked great so far in the tournament with an undefeated 4-2-0-0 record.
Whichever team wins this final game and finishes first in the group will get either Slovakia or Swizerland, with a matchup against the winner of Canada/Russia in the semis. Second place in Group B will get the Czech Republic in the quarters with Sweden likely to be the next opponent.
So who do you cheer for? Your home country or wonderful Avs boy Mikko Rantanen?