The two great international rivals will play in their tenth gold-medal game at the U20 since 1995. Canada holds a slim 5-4 advantage, including the most recent meeting, a 5-4 win in 2015.
Tonight, Canada swarmed the Finns in the first period, scoring four goals and never looking back in advancing to the gold medal game for the sixth time in the last decade with a 5-0 win. The last time Canada shut out the Finns at the U20 was eight years ago.
The Finns, so clinically perfect in beating the United States two nights ago, looked completely unprepared to start the game tonight, and although they came to life a little, there was no way they could overcome a four-goal deficit.
Joel Hofer stopped 25 shots for the shutout and Alexis Lafreniere led the offence with two goals.
"Being able to get on the board and our team getting off to such a good start, I think, was really exciting for us," said Jamie Drysdale, one of the goalscorers, and a defenceman who played more than usual after Bowen Byram was a late scratch. "I think we're glad that that happened and that we came out the way we did. We're looking forward to tomorrow's game."
"I don't actually know what went wrong," confessed Finnish forward Kristian Tanus. "We prepared well yesterday. It was a good day. We took a rest and prepared for this game. But when the puck dropped, Canada played hard the first ten minutes and they put hard pressure on us. They scored almost every time when they got a good chance."
Canada got things going just 1:47 into the game after controlling a faceoff in the Finland end. Connor McMichael finished the possession with a great shot to the top corner, over the glove of Justus Annonen. It wasn’t necessarily a weak goal, but it was a shot that would not have been called a sensational save had he made the catch.
Just 77 seconds later Canada went up by two. This came off a turnover at the Finland blue line when defenceman Kim Nousiainen flubbed the puck. Nolan Foote got control and passed to Alexis Lafreniere, who hade a sensational backhand to the short side.
This forced coach Raimo Helminen to call a timeout, but it had little effect. Fifty seconds later, it was a 3-0 game. Jamie Drysdale came in off the point, faked quickly and then snapped a low shot to the stick side that fooled Annunen.
"It felt good to get that goal tonight," said Dellandrea of his third goal of the tournament. "I've been trying to shut down guys, shut down top lines. It's a role that I like to play. It's not as flashy as getting all the goals and power play and stuff like that, but it's an important role."
Canada played defensively in the second, perhaps too much so, but the Finns also were not about to give up and were much more aggressive in Canada’s end. But try as they might, Suomi could not beat Joel Hofer, who made several fine stops. Perhaps the best came late in the period when he robbed Sampo Ranta from point-blank range.
Lafreniere made it 5-0 at 17:53 on a power play he created. While Antoni Honka was in the box for hauling him down, Lafreniere wired a short-side wrister that Annunen couldn’t see, dispiriting the Finns even more as they headed to the dressing room after 40 minutes.