MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Dylan Olsen (Calgary, Alta./Camrose, AJHL) was the overtime hero, scoring 1:58 into the extra period as Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team opened pre-tournament play ahead of the 2009 IIHF World Under-18 Championship with a wild 6-5 win over Finland on Sunday.
Canada struck first just shy of the four-minute mark of the first period as John McFarland (Richmond Hill, Ont./Sudbury, OHL) snapped a puck through the five-hole of Finnish goaltender Joni Ortio for a 1-0 lead.
But the lead would last just four minutes, as the Finns pulled even and sent the game to the first intermission even 1-1.
The offensive floodgates opened in the second period, as the two teams combined for four goals before the period was 10 minutes old. After Finland took a 2-1 lead just 55 seconds into the frame, Curtis Hamilton (Kelowna, B.C./Saskatoon, WHL) pulled Canada even, and struck again five minutes later after the Finns had again taken the lead.
Canada regained its one-goal lead late in the period when Brett Connolly (Prince George, B.C./Prince George, WHL) counted to give the Canadians a 4-3 lead after 40 minutes.
But once again the Finns would claw back, tying the game early in the third period, and, after Simon Déspres (Laval, Que./Saint John, QMJHL) had restored Canada’s lead at the 12:32 mark, drawing even again on a power play marker with 4:27 to go, forcing overtime.
The Canadians took advantage of an early penalty against the Finns in the extra period and Olsen blasted a point shot past Erno Suomalainen, who had replaced Ortio following Connolly’s second-period goal.
Michael Zador (Toronto, Ont./Oshawa, OHL) went the distance in the Canadian goal, making 23 saves.
Canada finished 3-for-10 on the power play, and killed eight of the ten Finnish man advantages.
After an off day on Monday, Canada returns to the ice at Ridder Arena Tuesday night when it faces Slovakia at 7 p.m. CT in its second and final pre-tournament game. It opens defence of its world title on Thursday, April 9 against Germany in Fargo, N.D.(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)