Last year, Finland won gold at the World Juniors. This time around, they’re in the relegation round after losing their three preliminary matches, prompting the mid-tournament firing of coach Jukka Rautakorpi.
Rautakorpi’s replacement is Jussi Ahokas, who boasts some impressive credentials. The Canadian Press notes that he was the head coach of Finland’s under-18 team for the past three years, bringing home gold in 2016.
There’s a “What have you done for me lately?” feel to this move, even by the fickle standards of sports. That’s especially true when you realize that this version of the Finnish team lacks some of the high-end talent they had last year, most notably Patrik Laine.
Finland’s outlook regarding their overall performance apparently mirror captain Olli Juolevi’s comments about an upset 3-2 loss to Denmark:
“We should beat Denmark or we should at least score more than two goals with those shots or something,” said Finland captain Olli Juolevi, per Postmedia. “There’s no excuses.”
There aren’t any excuses … and there’s zero tolerance for failure now that expectations have been raised.