Finland wins fifth World Junior Hockey Championship

Finland wins fifth World Junior Hockey Championship

Steven Ellis06 Jan 2019Steven Ellis»
 

For the third time in the past six tournaments, Finland has won gold at the World Junior Hockey Championships after beating the United States by a score of 3-2.

 
 
 
 

For the third time in the past six tournaments, Finland has won gold at the World Junior Hockey Championships after beating the United States by a score of 3-2.

The win marked the first time Finland won gold in Canada and came just months after many members of the World Under-18 Hockey Championship roster won gold against the Americans in April. It also puts Finland third in all-time gold medals at the World Juniors with five, trailing just Canada (17) and Russia/Soviet Union (13).

The goaltending was the story through 40 minutes. Cayden Primeau had 21 stops through two periods while Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen had 17, including quite a few high-quality chances, but the two netminders held their own.

Early in the first period, the Americans thought they had a goal. Oliver Wahlstrom would pick up the puck after it bounced around in the crease, beating Luukkonen up high on the shot, but the referee behind the net quickly waved it off. It was determined that the play should have been waved down due to Alexander Chmelevski standing in the crease, and while he was out of it after the goal was scored, it still fell under the crease violation rule.

The call would come back to bit the Americans. The Finns did a great job of killing four penalties, and after the Americans took their second midway through the game, the Finns made them pay for their inability to convert. At 31:31, Valtteri Puustinen got the puck to Oskari Laaksonen at the point, with Laaksonen sending the puck out to Jesse Ylonen. Ylonen wired a blister of a slap shot past an overcommitted Cayden Primeau, giving the Finns the advantage.

A goal at the 46-minute mark by the Finns made it look like the game was over. After some nifty passing in the offensive zone, Aleksi Heponiemi got the puck out to Otto Latvala at the point, with the defenceman wiring the shot past Primeau to make it 2-0.

But that was far from the case. A minute later, Chmelevski was rewarded for his multiple scoring chances in the game by taking a pass from Jack Hughes and scoring on his own rebound, putting it in from a tough angle to beat Luukkonen for the first time.

Then, 1:46 later, Chmelevski had a hand in making it 2-2. This time, he got the puck out to Josh Norris to the left of the Finnish net, with Norris finishing off the play with a wicked one-timer to knot the contest with time ticking down.

The Finns would get one late in the game to avoid the overtime. It was fitting that Kaapo Kakko, considered by many to be the second-best prospect in the NHL draft, would get one with over a minute left when he knocked in the past from Anton Lundell, beating Primeau to end USA's chance of a comeback, giving his nation the gold in the process.

Follow me on Twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

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