PARDUBICE, Czech Republic – The Finnish national team swept through the first Euro Hockey Tour event of the season with three wins at the Czech Hockey Games.
The event took place over the final weekend of August, much earlier than usual due to the Olympic Winter Games in February, and it was the Finns who seemed to be in best shape for the final international tournament to be held before the season kick-off in European league play.
The Finns beat host Czech Republic 3-1 on the opening day thanks to a pair of goals from Jori Lehterä and a strong performance of Atte Engren, who had 40 saves. In their second game the Finns blanked Russia 2-0 with goals from Sakari Salminen and Pekka Jormakka while Mikko Koskinen had a shutout with 17 saves.
Another strong performance on Sunday led the Lions to a 5-0 blanking of archrival Sweden. Engren also got his shutout with 26 saves. Oskar Osala scored two goals and Leo Komarov one while Salminen and Jormakka levelled their goal stats as well.
Jormakka became the goal scoring leader with three markers and Lehterä won the scoring stats with four points (2+2). Lehterä was also named Best Forward while Engren won the Best Goalkeeper award. Russia’s Andrei Zubarev was named Best Defenceman.
The other teams ended the tournament with one win each with Russia being ranked second followed by Sweden and the Czech Republic.
For Russia the tournament was mostly about identifying remaining players on the potential roster for the 2014 Olympics on home ice in Sochi beside the NHLers and a couple of KHL stars whose participation are more or less set. Yegor Averin, who has never played a World Championship for the men’s national team, led the Russians in scoring with two markers. The other goal came from Yevgeni Kuznetsov.
The Czechs and Swedes both had trouble getting pucks in the net at the tournament. Sweden scored all goals in a 3-0 blanking of the Czech Republic with two goals from Per Åslund. The forward of Färjestad Karlstad is also battling for this first nomination to a big event and hopes to send a message in view of the Olympics and the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
The Czechs also just scored three goals and had bad luck when two forwards from the first line fell ill during the tournament: Zbynek Irgl and Roman Cervenka. Irgl scored a goal in the opening game before he had to leave for the remainder of the tournament while Cervenka continued and had a goal and an assist.
During the break also a U20 tournament was played between these four nations in the northern Finnish town of Rovaniemi. At the polar circle it was the Russians who succeeded.
Russia recovered from an opening-day overtime loss to Sweden and had convincing victories against Finland, 3-0, and the Czech Republic, 8-0. Sweden was prevented from winning the tournament on the last day when they lost to Nordic rival Finland 5-2 in the last game.
Czech Hockey Games in Pardubice (CZE)
Finland vs. Czech Republic 3-1
Russia vs. Sweden 2-0 (in St. Petersburg)
Russia vs. Finland 0-2
Czech Republic vs. Sweden 0-3
Sweden vs. Finland 0-5
Czech Republic vs. Russia 2-1
U20 Four Nations Tournament in Rovaniemi (FIN)
Sweden vs. Russia 2-1 OT
Finland vs. Czech Republic 4-3
Czech Republic vs. Sweden 0-3
Finland vs. Russia 0-3
Russia vs. Czech Republic 8-0
Finland vs. Sweden 5-2