Julius Honka will play for Finland at the 2015 World Junior Championship and joined his fellow countrymen today after playing in the Texas Stars 5-2 loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday.
“I’m now here with the national team,” Honka said in a phone interview Monday morning. “I talked with Dallas and they think it’s a good experience for me to play for my country and play for the national team.
“We made the decision together,” Honka continued. “(Playing professionally) helps a little bit (for World Junior)… it’s my last chance (at World Junior) and I’m looking forward to it.”
The World Junior Championship runs until Jan. 5, meaning Honka could miss up to five games with the Stars.
Honka helped Finland win the gold medal in 2014 against rival and host country Sweden. While they they are the defending champions, Finland might be flying under the radar with all the hype around Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.
“We had a little bit more pressure than other teams, I think, last year,” Honka said. “This year I’m looking forward to playing my game and I don’t want to put any added pressure on us.”
Finland opens the tournament Friday against the United States at 3 p.m. in Montreal.