Finland scored three goals in the second period en route to its first win over Canada in 12 years. Their reward – a date with Sweden for U20 gold tomorrow.
The difference was skating, passing, and creative play. Canada seemed not to be able to make or take a pass while the Finns created several fine scoring chances through excellent puck movement.
The largely pro-Canadian crowd of 11,544 did its part to try to inspire their favourite players, but it just wasn't there tonight. Finland, though, was the very epitome of determination.
Although Canada had the puck most of the scoreless first period, it didn’t generate many good scoring chances as the Finns collapsed in their own end to protect goalie Juuse Saros and kept Canada to the outside.
And, Finland generated the only power play of the period when Matt Dumba tripped Aleksi Mustonen behind the Canadian goal.
The Finns got the opening goal at 4:19 of the second on a strange play and fortuitous bounce. Julius Honka fired the puck along the boards from centre ice, but deep in the Canadian end it hit a rut and came right through the Canadian slot. Defenceman Matt Dumba had already turned to play the puck behind the net and Fucale also thought it would go behind the net. Neither didn’t see the weird bounce, but Joni Nikko did. He took his time and wired it in the open side.
Less than two minutes later, the Finns stunned the pro-Canadian crowd by connecting on a power play. This time Teuvo Teräväinen’s quick shot from the side boards was tipped in front by Saku Mäenalanen. Fucale made the save, but the rebound came out to Arturri Lehkonen, and he snapped it in for a 2-0 Finland lead.
Did the Finns know about that quirk in the boards through experience at Malmö Arena? Did Canada not know because it had yet to play at the arena?
Canada got one goal back at 11:24 after a giveaway by Ville Pokka. Anthony Mantha picked off the pass up the middle and got the puck to Curtis Lazar, who drove around the goal and tried to stuff the puck in. Saros made the save but Jonathan Drouin had a wide open goal to make it 2-1.
Canada then had a meltdown of sorts and took two minors and two misconducts to take away any momentum Canada might have gained. Fucale made a brilliant save on a nice passing play, but moments later Rasmus Ristolainen beat him to the short side over the shoulder to make it 3-1.
Finland showed far more creativity with the puck and were effective in their own end keeping the Canadians at bay. The score through 40 minutes well reflected the skills of the two teams.
Teräväinen finished the scoring with a penalty-shot goal at 16:48 and another into the empty net in the final minute.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)