World Juniors 2019 recap & highlights: Jesse Ylönen, Finland score early and often to advance to Gold Medal game

Switzerland’s magical run is Finnished.

After taking the tournament by storm, putting scares into some of their toughest opponents, and shocking Sweden in the quarter-final, Switzerland’s magical run to the semi-final fell one game short. Finland scored four goals in the opening 7:43 en route to a 6-1 win on Friday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

They will play for the gold medal at the 2019 World Junior Hockey Championship, facing the United States on Saturday night.

Finland took an early 1-0 lead when Jesse Ylönen found the corner of the net on a one-timer after a pass from Santeri Virtanen just 40 seconds into the game. It was Ylönen’s second goal of the tournament.

The Finns would keep going as just 2:15 later, Rasmus Kupari would pass to Aarne Talvitie who fired one past Swiss goaltender Luca Hollenstein to take an early 2-0 lead.

Switzerland would have their best chance to cut the Finland lead just a few minutes later but the puck would bounce over Justin Sigrist’s stick right in the slot. And if there was any doubt about the Swiss magical run stopping just short of gold, Finland’s top line would come right back down the ice and Talvitie would score his second of the game to make it 3-0 less than six minutes into the game.

On a power play right after that, Finland would make it 4-0 when Henri Jokiharju scored from the point 7:43 into the game. Akira Schmid would then come in, replacing Hollenstein, who had been great up to that point for Switzerland. At the point Jokiharju scored, Finland would be outshooting Switzerland 8-1. Hollenstein, who allowed just two goals in his previous three games, made just four saves. Schmid made 23 saves in relief.

Philipp Kurashev, Switzerland’s best player throughout the tournament would score on the power play late in the first period to cut the Finland lead to 4-1. It was Kurashev’s tournament-leading sixth goal.

Switzerland would open the second period applying some pressure on Finland, but they could not beat Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. Luukkonen made 17 saves in the win.

Aleksi Heponiemi would pot a rebound less than eight minutes into the second period to make it 5-1 and put any thought of a Swiss comeback to rest. He had two assists in the first period as well and would be named the player of the game for his team.

Some frustration boiled over for Switzerland in the second half of the second period as they gave Finland a long five-on-three advantage but the Swiss did a good job of defending on the penalty kill to start, but Finland had their top power play unit on the ice and when it came back to five-on-four Kupari scored his first goal, adding to what was already a great game for him to make it 6-1.

The third period saw a scary incident when Virtanen was hit by Davyd Barandun knee-on-knee. Virtanen avoided the hit and the two collided violently. Virtanen went off on his own but did seem in pain.

The teams would play four-on-four until the Swiss got a short power play, but nothing much would come of it.

Finland’s game against the United States in the Gold Medal game is a rematch of their 4-1 loss on New Year’s Eve in round robin play. Switzerland will face Russia for the bronze medal in a rematch of their round robin game that was a wild 7-4 Russian win.

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