Finland – Canada 4-5 (0-2, 3-2, 1-0, 0-1)
BRNO – Canada gave up a 4-1 second period lead to the Finns, but managed to come through in overtime to win its first U18 medal in four years.
Just over two minutes into the extra period, Scott Laughton found a streaking Hunter Shinkaruk down the left side of the boards. Shinkaruk beat defenceman Esa Lindell and cut to the net, bringing the puck past goaltender Joonas Korpisalo and slotting it home for the bronze-medal-winning goal.
“It was a good day," said a smiling Shinkaruk, who also had a hat trick in the game. "Laughton made a great pass to me, I had some speed and managed to beat the defenceman wide and the goalie and tuck it in. Right when I knew I had the goalie I got a big smile on my face and I couldn’t wait to celebrate with my teammates."
Down 4-3 in the third period, Finland equalized nine minutes in with a power play goal from Rasmus Ristolainen. Canadian goaltender Matt Murray looked to have a handle on the shot, but the puck bounced off and into the net for the tying goal. Murray managed to redeem himself with under a minute left in regulation, saving what looked like a sure goal from Henri Ikonen off a rebound to send the game into overtime.
“Canada was a very strong team individually,” said Finland head coach Jussi Tapola. “That was the difference in overtime.”
The Finns came on stronger as the game progressed. Canada’s 2-0 advantage after the first period was cut to one early in the second thanks to a goal from Henrik Haapala. But following the Finn’s goal, the Canadians responded with a pair of scores, the first coming from Shinkaruk, who batted in a rebound after a faceoff win by Canada in the Finnish zone.
The next goal was scored by Brendan Gaunce, coming with his team short-handed after Josh Morrissey received a 20-minute game misconduct and a five minute major penalty for kneeing on Ristolainen. The major didn’t help things for Finland at first, as Laughton lofted a pass from centre ice to Gaunce, who beat Korpisalo for the short-hander.
But the Finns responded soon after with a power play goal by Artturi Lehkonen with 23 seconds left in Morrissey’s major, and with 45 seconds left to go in the period Henrik Haapala recorded his second goal of the game, scoring off a rebound to trim the Canadian lead to one after his team was initially down 4-1 halfway through the second frame.
But despite giving up the lead twice, thanks to Shinkaruk Canada now has its first medal in four years at the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship.
“We just really tried to stress the importance of this game for them not only from a team perspective but as individuals. Scouts are going to be evaluating these guys no matter what the situation and coming off the tough loss to the U.S. they were gonna look to see who was going to respond from that, that was something we challenged them on.”
Special teams were clicking early for the Canadians, resulting in a pair of power play goals in the first period. After Atte Makinen was called for an interference penalty, Matt Dumba took the puck to the Finnish net and dished it off at the last moment to Shinkaruk for the game’s first goal. On another powerplay three minutes later, Dumba’s point shot was deflected in front of the net by Sam Reinhart to put Canada up 2-0 going into the second period.
“It’s tough that we didn’t win get an opportunity to play in the gold medal game, but we did a great job preparing for this game even though it’s a tough gaem to get up for, and I’m just happy I could contribute and help bring home the medal.”
Matt Dumba’s three points in the game put him at 12 for the tournament, three points clear of runners up Sebastian Collberg and Alexander Wennberg of Sweden. Depending on the performance of both Swedish forwards in tonight’s gold medal game, Dumba could walk away for the 2012 U18 championship as the first defenceman in history to lead the tournament in scoring.
But Canada's captain was quick to deflect any praise after the game, praising instead his team's effort after a tough loss in the semi-finals to the United States.
“It felt like we got stabbed after that semi-final,” said Dumba. “But I’m proud of the way the guys picked themselves up and came out and won a tough game today. I was only successful in this tournament because of the guys around me, if they don’t score I don’t get an assist, so the credit goes to them.”
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