The horn sounds and Team Canada’s golden dreams are dashed.
The Finnish offense dominated during the 60-minute contest, for a 5-1 besting of the Canadians in the semifinals of the world junior hockey championship. Team Canada’s collapse can be attributed to tension, unnecessary penalties, and inability to generate consistent offense. Ultimately, Finland aggressively dictated the pace and outcome of the meeting.
Finland will square off against Sweden for gold. Team Canada’s focus abruptly sharpens as a bronze medal game against Russians is set for tomorrow.
Forward Joni Nikko capitalized on a puck that banked off the end boards, beating Canadian netminder Zach Fucale to give Finland an early lead in the second period. Artturi Lehkonen and Rasmus Ristolainen chimed in and widened the gap between the two teams.
With superb stick handling skills, Jonathan Drouin jumped on a loose puck and potted the lone Canadian goal at 11:24 of the second frame. Curtis Lazar and Anthony Mantha were credited with the assists.
The second period was riddled with penalties. The Canadians were penalized for a total of twenty-six minutes—two game misconducts and three minors penalties. Drouin and Nic Petan—key components of Team Canada’s offense—were responsible for a large portion of those minutes.
The final period served to augment the worries of Team Canada, with Teuvo Tervainen netting two goals—one of which on a penalty shot following an ill-advised play by defenseman Derrick Pouliot. Despite anchoring Team Canada’s blueline for the better part of the tournament, Pouliot’s performance was vapid and flat.
Eleven Canadian skaters earned a minus rating and Fucale finished with a disappointing .818 save percentage. The loss marks the fifth straight year that Canada—a heavy favourite—failed to snag the goal medal at the tournament. Meanwhile, the Finns’ last goal medal victory was in 1998. Canada’s record against Finland is now 22-8-6.