ROCKFORD, Ill – Three skaters who finished the 2018-19 season with the Rockford IceHogs are currently skating in the IIHF World Championship in defenseman Henri Jokiharju, forward Philipp Kurashev and goaltender Kevin Lankinen.
Jokiharju, 19, split the 2018-19 season between the Chicago Blackhawks and IceHogs, collecting 12 assists in 38 games with Chicago and 17 points (2g, 15a) in 30 games with Rockford. He opened the campaign in the NHL and concluded his first month of action tied for first among NHL rookie defenseman in scoring with seven points (7a) in 12 games. The blueliner was assigned to the IceHogs on Jan. 30 and notched the second-longest point streak for Rockford through just his first 10 career AHL games. Jokiharju posted a five-game streak with eight assists from Feb. 12 – 23 to finish just one game shy of the team-high streak of six games from Dylan Sikura and Peter Holland. Overall, he led all Rockford blueliners in scoring after his team debut and his 15 assists paced all team skaters following his first AHL game on Feb. 1.
The defenseman has skated in seven games with Finland during the World Championship while helping lead the Fins to a Quarterfinal matchup against Sweden. Jokiharju has picked up a pair of assists from the blueline and skated to a +1 rating through his seven contests.
Kurashev, 19, skated with Quebec in the QMJHL for the majority of 2018-19, logging 1.1 points per game with 65 total points (29g, 36a) in 50 contests as an alternate captain. He led the team in scoring, goals and assists, and his 65 points finished as 18 more than any other Quebec skater last season. His 2018-19 season also included a dominant run at the World Juniors in which he finished first among all WJC-20 skaters with six goals in seven games for Switzerland during the tournament. Kurashev signed at ATO with Rockford on April 4, made his AHL debut on April 5 at Texas and concluded the year by skating in three total AHL games with the Hogs.
The forward enters Thursday’s Quarterfinals matchup with Canada with one goal and three assists in seven contests as an alternate captain for Switzerland. He also boasts a +4 rating on the tournament, which is just two shy of the team’s best mark as of May 23.
Lankinen, 24, played between the pipes for the IceHogs for the majority of the 2018-19 season, but also took the ice in six ECHL games with the Fuel last year. He combined for a 7-8-4 record with a 2.50 GAA and .910 save percentage with the IceHogs, helping to guide Rockford’s trio of netminders to the best save percentage in the AHL. Lankinen won just two of his first 10 AHL outings through Jan. 18 before going 5-3-1 over his final nine contests with the IceHogs. The goaltender’s 2018-19 campaign also included a 4-2-0 record with a 3.18 GAA with Indy, and a recall to the Chicago Blackhawks on an emergency basis on April 5 (did not appear in an NHL game).
The netminder has starred with Finland during the World Championship, posting a 4-1-0 record with a 1.40 GAA and .938 save percentage through five appearances. He enters Thursday ranked second among tournament goaltenders in GAA, fifth in save percentage and is one of just eight netminders with a shutout.
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