Finns win, playoffs set
by Andrew Podnieks|09 JAN 2019
The Finns and Czechs battled for 60 minutes in the final game of the Preliminary Round.
photo: Robert Hradil / HHOF-IIHF Images
Kiira Yrjanen scored into an empty net with 34 seconds remaining in regulation to break a 1-1 tie and give Finland a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic tonight in the final game of the Preliminary Round.

The unique situation came about as the Czechs tried to avoid the Relegation Round. In order to do so, they had to beat Finland in regulation.
With that result the quarter-finals and Relegation Round matchups are set.
Tomrrow’s first quarter-finals will feature Sweden (fourth in Group A) and Finland (first in Group B), and the later one will be Russia (third in Group A) and Switzerland (second in Group B). The Swiss qualification is the nation's first ever in WW18 play.
The Czechs and hosts Japan will also begin their best-of-three relegation series tomorrow afternoon. The winner of that stays in the top pool for 2020 while the loser goes down to Division I-A.
The Finns killed off the only two penalties of the opening period and then scored early in the second on a power play of their own. Elisa Holopainen got the goal at 4:07, but soon after Suomi ran into more penalty trouble.
Yet, despite incurring three more minors, they still led 1-0 after 40 minutes. The Czechs pressed in the third, though, and with only 2:56 left tied the game when Hana Haasova banged in a rebound from the crease, setting off a wild celebration on the Czech bench.

The celebration was short-lived, however, as they couldn't get a second goal with the extra attacker. Instead, the Finns sealed their first-place finish and sent the Czechs to relegation play.