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2021 World Juniors Bronze Medal Game recap & highlights: Tips and tricks lead Finland over Russia

A slow start was overcome, and Finland takes home a medal.

Finland v Russia: Bronze Medal Game - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Mikko Petman’s first goal of the tournament early in the third period led Finland to a 4-1 victory against Russia in the bronze medal game at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton, Alberta on Tuesday evening.

It was Finland’s first non-gold medal at the World Juniors since they won bronze in 2006 when the tournament was held in Vancouver. Finnish captain Anton Lundell had two goals, and Kari Piiroinen made 28 saves in the win.

Finland took their first lead of the game 1:13 into the third period. Petman got his stick on an Eemil Viro wrist shot from the point on a shot that was very similar to Lundell’s goal earlier in the game. The puck also bounced off of a Russian stick and off of the ice before Petman got a piece of it.

The Russians, perhaps buoyed by their big loss to Canada, came out very strong. They had the first eight shots of the game, several scoring chances, and then finally took the lead early.

Just over six minutes into the first period, Ilya Safonov took the rebound from a Maxim Groshev shot and put it past Piiroinen to give the Russians the 1-0 lead.

Finland came out strong in the second half of the first period, getting a few chances on Yaroslav Askarov but they were unable to beat the goaltender. That seemed to settle them in, and maybe the strong Russian start woke them up to the opportunity that was slipping away.

The best Finnish chance came with just over six minutes Aku Räty made a pass to Juuho Parssinen, but they were stopped by Askarov who made a great lateral move.

Later in the period another Finland chance when Matias Mantykivi’s shot tipped off of Russian defender Roman Bychkov and off the post past Askarov. The teams continued trading chances when Zakhar Bardakov broke in the zone with speed off the left wing and fired his shot just wide.

After Finland fell behind the shot count 8-0, the period ended with shots at 11-9 in favour of Russia.

Russia had an early power play in the second period, but was not able to extend their lead, and a few minutes later, Finland tied the game. After some cycling in the offensive zone, Anton Lundell deflected Topi Niemela’s shot past Askatov just over five minutes into the middle frame.

Throughout the rest of the second period, the teams went back and forth and created chances. The final few minutes had a flurry of activity in the Russian end, but Askarov made the saves he needed to make and the intensity dialled up with several post-whistle scrums.

Russia had some chances of their own during the four-on-four hockey that closed out the second but in the end, 20 minutes would decide the bronze.

The bronze medal game is always full of ebbs and flows as the disappointment of being in the game in the first place slowly becomes replaced by the fact that a bronze is better than nothing, and this game was no different as it entered the final period.

The Russian comeback effort took a big blow with 6:45 remaining when Podkolzin took an unintentional high sticking double minor, giving Finland a four minute power play that would take up over half of the remaining minutes.

Russia’s aggressive penalty kill created some half chances, but kept the Finland power play at bay. They killed the first half of the four minutes with relative ease, and Finland could never get anything going after that except for a late chance by Lundell. Russia did not allow a shot in the four minutes was the good news. The bad news being that four minutes had elapsed off the clock.

With under two minutes remaining, and after a Finnish icing call, Russia pulled their goaltender and immediately got a scoring chance, but were stopped by Piiroinen. Shortly thereafter, Lundell scored his second of the game into an empty net. Roni Hirvonen added a second empty net goal.