Make it two for Suomi

YOG: Finns gain semi-final berth, Canadians get first win vs USA

15.01.2012
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Finland's Otto Nieminen upends a Russian player during his team's 4-3 win over Russia in the preliminary round. Photo: Ben Mackey

Finland - Russia 4 - 3 (0 - 2 , 3 - 0 , 1 - 1) Game Sheet

INNSBRUCK – Finland overcame a two-goal deficit to defeat Russia 4-3 in the preliminary round of the 2012 Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck. A converted penalty shot by captain Manu Honkanen led to three unanswered Finnish goals as the team improved to two wins and zero losses.

Down 2-0 heading into the second period, the Finns did themselves no favours early on, taking four consecutive penalties and having to kill off another 5-on-3 at the outset of the frame. But Russia could not find the back of the net, and after Otto Nieminen was sent off on a questionable holding call, Finland’s captain Manu Honkanen intercepted the puck and took off for the Russia net on a breakaway. But before he could shoot Honkanen was brought down by a Russian defenceman and awarded with a penalty shot, which he smoothly converted with a shot through the legs of Russian goaltender Maxim Tretiak. “I knew I was going to shoot before I took the penalty,” said Honkanen. “The ice was pretty bad by then so it wouldn’t have been a good idea to try and make a move, fortunately for us it went in.” The goal served as the spark for Finland’s offence, and Russia gave them a break by taking two successive penalties. With Evgeny Svechnikov in the box for slashing, Kasperi Kapanen found a hole in the Russia zone and burst from the corner to front of the net, burying the puck past Tretiak to tie the game. Following the goal Russia found itself right back on the penalty kill, again for slashing, and on a three-on-two Kapanen dropped the puck back to Waltteri Hopponen, who fired a wristshot that beat Tretiak through the five-hole to put Russia behind for the first time in the tournament. Early in the third period Kasperi Kapanen scored what would be the game winner, taking the puck along the boards, outskating the Russian defender and firing it past Tretiak for the 4-2 lead. Ivan Nikolishin scored soon after for Russia, but Finland held for the win. Russia came out flying in the first period, scoring two powerplay goals form Dmitry Sergeev and Nikolishin. But the team could not convert on three successive powerplay in the second period, and lost the momentum following Honkanen’s penalty. “When we went down early our coach just told us to calm down and stick to our game,” said Kapanen. “We knew the Russians were a fast and skilful team, but after we got the penalty shot and then scored another after it got easier to play with them.” With a perfect record through two games, Finland has secured a semi-final berth, with two games remaining against Canada and the USA. Russia will take on Austria next before their final preliminary match against the Americans.

Canada - USA 5 - 1 (1 - 0, 2 - 1, 2 - 0) Game Sheet INNSBRUCK - After dropping their opening game 4-3 to Russia, Team Canada bounced back in a big way, holding the US to one goal in a 5-1 victory at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games. “We had to come out and make a statement game after not playing the whole three periods against Russia,” said Team Canada captain Joseph Hicketts. “It was a good bounce back from that game and a good confidence booster for us.” The Canadians won thanks to some timely scoring and a sizeable advantage in the shots department. Forward Eric Cornel scored Canada’s first goal, taking the puck down the right side of the US net and firing a shot past goalkeeper Logan Halladay. After Canada took a 1-0 lead into the second period, Cornel took the puck into the US zone and dished it to Ryan Gropp. Gropp made a feint on Halladay and backhanded the puck in the net for the 2-0 lead. Team USA’s Blake Clark answered soon after, firing a slapshot form the outside of the circle that went under netminder Keven Bouchard’s arm, cutting the lead to one. With Edwin Minney subbing in for Halladay in the US net, Canada’s Adam Brooks and Reid Duke bore down on the new US goalie on a two on one soon after Clark's goal. Brooks passed the puck under the sliding US defender to Duke, who made a quick feint on Minney and shot the puck in with a backhand.

With Canada playing to preserve a two-goal lead, the US could not manage to regain the momentum in the final period. Bouchard made a pair of good saves at the outset of the frame to preserve the lead, allowing Brooks and Gropp to snag two power play goals to put the game out of reahc of the Americans.

“Shots on net were a big thing and we ran into penalty trouble,” said US forward Ryan MacInnis. “We need to work on both going into the next game.” The US will play against the Finns next, winners of their game against Russia today. Canada will play against Austria on Tuesday. Barring a miracle performance from the Austrians in the next few games, Finland, USA, Canada, and Russia are in line to appear in the semi-finals. ADAM STEISS 
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