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World Juniors 2016 Recap: Finland beats Canada in a 6-5 barnburner

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Undisciplined play and a lethal Finnish offense eliminate Canada. Finland to face Sweden in the semi-finals

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The Canadian coach said they needed to take three minors or less. They took nine, and Finland ultimately made them pay in a wild race to the wire.

After being fairly invisible, Jake Virtanen came out with some buzz in the opening minutes of the first. The pace was furious early, with both sides getting chances. Dylan Strome had a great chance nearly five minutes in, taking advantage of a Finnish turnover, but Veini Vehvilainen said no. Canada's hustle was much more noticeable, as they were all over the Finns, and the hustle payed off at 5:21, when Travis Konecny rocketed one home. Although he looked dominant all tournament, that was his first.

Just seconds later, however, Thomas Chabot took a delay of game penalty as the puck went over the glass in the Canadians' zone. The Finn's lethal powerplay got to work, and there was mayhem in front of the net, but Roland McKeowan absolutely robbed Kasperi Kapanen with a spectacular desperation play, and the Canadians killed off the penalty.

Then, Julien Gauthier hit the ice, replacing a shaken up Virtanen, and put a shot on net. Vehvilainen was unable to cover the puck, and Strome batted the puck into the wide open net. Just like that, 2-0 Canada. Strome that was Strome's fourth goal and sixth point, giving him a point in every game, and making the Coyotes' prospect Canada's most consistent and dangerous player. Moreover, after his statement that Finland should be afraid playing Canada, Strome asserted his will all over the game. While his early goal was important, his best moment may have been on a monster backcheck, robbing the Finns of one of their most dangerous scoring chances with Joe Hicketts, negating a rush by the ever dangerous Jesse Puljujarvi and Patrik Laine.

With 11 seconds to go, Laine would dribble one through Blackwood to make it a 2-1 game. Puljujarvi and Sebastian Aho would both pick up assists. Despite the late goal, the first period was easily Team Canada's best of the tournament.

Barely a minute into the second, Hickets was called for charging on Puljujarvi as he left his feet, again giving the best powerplay in the tournament a chance. Canada killed the penalty, but a few minutes later, Brandon Hickey blew an edge, and Antti Kalapudas wristed one past Blackwood. Leading up to the goal, Canada had not had a shot in eight minutes.

In yet another mad scramble around the net, Brendan Perlini and Brayden Point jammed at the puck. Hicketts, coming around the back of the net, celebrated like it was a goal, but review would ultimately determine that it was not. However Canada would get a good goal back mere seconds later as Virtanen capitalized on a Finnish turnover, and Lawson Crouse hammered the puck home. As a result, Finnish coach Jukka Jalonen pulled Vehvilainen for allowing three goals on ten shots. His replacement Kappo Kahkonen would turn away a Strome wrap-around immediately thereafter.

In yet another crazy mob around the net, Kahkonen robbed Strome and Virtanen, and Joni Tuulola took a hooking call. Miro Keskitalo was called for cross-checking on Marner, but Virtanen negated the upcoming 5 on 3 by hauling down Miska Siikonen. Canada came up with several excellent chances, but Kahkonen made a great save, hanging on grimly as the two teams piled on top of him.

Canada carried the play, but Perlini took a costly penalty for slashing, allowing the white hot, Finnish powerplay to strike again, Puljujarvi setting up Aleksi Saarela for the game-tier.

The wheels came off a bit then for Canada, as Ducks prospect Julius Nattinen scored his first of the tournament, and a furious Dylan Strome took a crosschecking penalty behind the Finnish net. A strong penalty kill would allow the Canadians to escape to the dressing room and regroup.

Finnish captain Mikko Rantanen took an interference penalty on Mitchell Stephens 1:29 into the third, and a dangerous Canadian powerplay finally converted as Point corralled Travis Sanheim's rebound and Marner tucked it home.

Aho would respond a minute and seven seconds later, driving the net and scoring on Puljujarivi's shot as Chabot was unable to tie up his stick. Canada went to the powerplay a minute later, again chasing the tying goal on a tripping call to Vili Saarijarvi.

Marner scored again on the powerplay goal, and again, the game was all tied up. At 9:38, Laine took Strome chest first into the boards between the benches. It looked bad, but Strome returned to the bench before play even began, and Laine only go two minutes for boarding.

After a distinctly lacklustre tournament, Virtanen took a terrible double minor to negate the Canadian powerplay. Marner almost had the hat trick, ghosting through the Finnish defence, but Kahkonen turned him aside, and the Canadiens would kill the first Virtanen penalty. It looked like the strong play of Blackwood and the Canadians penaltykillers would get through, but What should have been a huge kill play by Hicketts sent the puck over the glass, and Canada to a 5-3 shorthanded situation. Finland showed no mercy, and the Laine would score his sixth of the tournament, hammering the puck through Blackwood.

They would kill off the rest of Hicketts' penalty but that wouldn't be the end of it. Saarela took Point down and got a penalty, but Marner took a penalty on Nattinen in retaliation, and the Canadians negated yet another penalty. The Canadians pressed hard, dominating the 4 on 4, but were unable to capitalize. Going the other way, Blackwood made a huge stop.

With a minute left, Blackwood was pulled for the sixth player. Point nearly tied the game up with thirty seconds left, but that would be all.

Saku Koivu presented the players of the game awards, for his two goals, Marner was named player of the game, for his two goals and one assist, Laine would receive the award for Finland.

Hicketts, Stome and Matt Barzal were named Canada's players of the tournament.

Finland will advance to the Semi-finals where they will face Sweden, Canada is eliminated in the quarter-finals for the first time in 17 years.

Thoughts

  • Travis Konecny had himself quite a game, capping off what had been a very strong tournament for the Philidelphia pick, who was likened to Brendan Gallagher on multiple occasions. Mitch Marner also came up huge in this game, despite the late penalty.
  • Canada's biggest problem was, without a doubt, all the penalties. They got overemotional and reckless on several occasions, and Finland made them pay.
  • The Aho, Laine, Puljujarvi line are nothing short of spectacular, and I highly look forward to seeing their play in the semis. There's something magical around the Finns right now, and with Canada out, I have to say I'm pulling for them.
  • We can talk ad nauseam about all the things Canada did wrong, but Finland also was phenominal in front of their home crowd.
  • The Canadians needed much better goaltending than they received, but they could have used more help from their defence. There was a clear lack of a solid defensive presence.
  • Dylan Strome played his heart out all tournament, and was Canada's most impressive player throughout. Arizona is going to have a seriously talented young team in a year or two.