Photo credit: Kelly Shea-AIC Athletics
Julius Janhonen was not on track to play hockey for Head Coach Eric Lang’s American International College Yellow Jackets Ice Hockey team this year until late in the recruiting process. He did not reach out to Lang or his staff, but rather his advisor reached out to Lang. His advisor, according to Lang, said to offer him a scholarship, and that Lang should, “just take him and thank me later.” In his first season, through 13 games played, he has eight points (three goals and five assists) and is plus six. Janhonen has earned his ice as a player who exudes confidence, has a high vision, and shown an immediate ability to speed up his game on North American ice.
Of his transition from the Finnish game (Janhonen is an Espoo, Finland native) to the North American game, Lang said ” it took him about a week to adjust, his adjustment and acclamation to the u is as good as I’ve ever seen, and after seven days we knew we had a special player.” Lang said of Janhonen’s advisor, given the year that Julius has had and what he brings to the group “I’ve been thanking him ever sense.” Janhonen heard about the pedigree of the program when the staff reached out to him, and committed pretty fast, without a single on campus visit. As Julius put it, “I said yes right away.”
Janhonen also has a pretty unique experience from his time in Finland. He played with potential 2022 number one overall pick in the NHL, Brad Lambert, and learned a lot from him, and his father Ross. Spending time with both of them helped Julius to refine his stick handling skills and skating speed. Julius and Brad are friends, and Julius is appreciative of what he learned playing with Lambert in Finland. Julius wants to develop into an Alexander Barkov-like player capable of providing a large amount of offense for the group, while being responsible in his own end.
This year has been immeasurably helpful to Julius. He called Eric Lang, for many reasons ” the best coach I’ve ever had.” Of the group he plays with, he relishes the daily competition. For instance, he notes that all four goalies have a healthy competition with the skaters in practice every day. He said, “they’re so smart and competitive and they want to get better every day.” Of the group he plays with, he enjoys the competition for ice time, and how deep the team he plays for is. He said that on any given night, “any line could be in our lineup.”
Finally, Julius singled out senior Chris Dodero for his mentorship and for helping him improve defensively. Team defense, especially amongst its forwards is a hallmark of AIC Hockey under Eric Lang’s leadership and Dodero has mentored Janohnen in that way. Of all of the leadership amongst the Yellow Jackets Janhonen, simply said” when I’m a senior I want to be like them.”
For now, with his team set to play an opportunistic, and battle-tested Niagara team this Friday, AIC as a team has a lot of reasons to be thankful, one of them is for the strong start of a player that, before practice started, Eric Lang did not have a chance to see in person.
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