In what could be considered the best game of the tournament thus far, Finland once again added another W to their record, this time defeating the Czech Republic in a grueling 5-4 victory.
“It was a tough game, with lots of action and goals. I don’t think we’ve played a great 60-minute game yet, but we got the win,” Finnish forward Jesse Puljujarvi said.
This game definitely wasn’t an easy one to play for Finland, who have taken a huge blow to their defense with multiple injuries and illnesses setting them back and shorting them several players. Finnish head coach Jukka Jalonen even had to resort to moving center Miska Siikonen to defense. As if they weren’t short enough defensemen already, the Finns ended up losing Vili Saarijärvi in the first period to stomach flu, leaving them with only four defensemen to finish the game. Luckily for Finland, they possess a deadly offense with plenty of power to make up for the lacking defense. Despite a great period for both teams, neither were able to put anything on the scoreboard and the first stanza came to an end with the score still tied at 0-0.
Czech Republic looked like they were going to take the lead early in the second period with a breakaway, but Veini Vehviläinen stood tall and deflected the shot, which was quickly moved out of the zone and into the Czech net thanks to Sebastian Aho and Jess Puljujarvi, putting their team on top and lighting up the goal lamps for the first time in the game. Czech Republic wasn’t going down easy though, returning the favor and tying the game up soon afterward. Unfortunately for the Finns, it was just under two minutes after their first goal that they took the lead on a goal from Jan Ordos. It was only so long before the Czech slipped up, turning the puck over in their own zone, allowing Roope Hintz to slide the puck through the five-hole and tie the game 2-2. But the second period excitement wasn’t over just yet, as Finland went on the powerplay. It was Antti Kalapuhdas who took advantage of the powerplay, one-timing the puck into the Czech net, finally capturing the lead again for his team 3-2.
“It was a strange game with lots of back and forth,” said Finnish forward Kasperi Kapanen, whose grandfather Hannu was in the stands wearing his lucky sports jacket, the one he wore as coach of the 1998 World Junior Championship team.
“His jacket must have worked, because I felt lucky out there,” Kapanen added, with a laugh
The Czech Republic made sure to take away any extra confidence the Finns may have had, notching a game-tying powerplay goal just 33 seconds before the end of the period, bringing the game to a tie heading into the third.
Czech came out of the gate in the third with victory on their mind, upping their intensity and dominating a lot of the third period play, scoring just before the halfway mark and notching the goal that gave them a 4-3 lead. It looked as if the Czech might have had the game in the bag until the lethal Finnish powerplay struck again, this time with Puljujarvi scoring his second goal of the night and tying the game. Just as the game looked as though it would be going into overtime, the Finns found themselves on another powerplay, an opportunity they couldn’t let slip, as Patrik Laine fired a shot past the Czech goaltender and blowing the roof off the arena with the game tying 5-4 goal Finland needed for the win.
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