Canada overwhelms Finland
by Andrew Podnieks|01 JAN 2021
Canada dominated Finland and skated to an impressive 4-1 victory to close out the preliminary round.
 
photo: Andrea Cardin/HHOF-IIHF Images
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From the opening faceoff Canada attacked the Finns wave after wave, pursuing every puck with purpose and taking away the Finns’ time to think. The result was a thoroughly dominating 4-1 win.
Canada vs Finland - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship
Highlights - Canada vs Finland - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship
CAN FIN 01 JAN 2021
Shots favoured Canada by a wide margin, 40-19, and over four games of the preliminary round Canada outshot its opponents 159-67. Goal differential was just as one-sided--33-4.

The result means Canada, with a perfect 4-0 record, will take on the Czech Republic in one quarter-finals on Saturday, while the other three matchups are still contingent on the last game today between Sweden and the United States.

"It was a battle for first place, so we were fired up to get out there," enthused Dylan Cozens. "We're re really happy with the start we had. It was the best period of hockey all tournament so far, but we just have to keep building on that."

"We didn't play as well as our last game," admitted Finnish defenceman Mikko Kokkonen. "Defensively, we didn't get pucks out of our end early, so we spent too much time in our own end. We knew how they were going to play, but in the first two periods we didn't play well. We have to be better."

"At the start of the game, we weren't ready at all," admitted coach Antti Pennanen. "Team Canada was so good. They played with speed, and it was a demanding game for us. They won all the battles, all the loose pucks. We tried to improve, and we did, but not enough. They have so many good players, and they're well coached."

Canada’s pressure was a thing of beauty for its intensity. Dylan Cozens opened the scoring off the rush at 3:49 after a mistake by Eemil Viro at the Canada blue line. Viro tried to pinch off a turnover, but Cozens took the puck down the left wing on a three-on-one. Seeing few options on the pass, he took aim and wired a shot to the short side of Kari Piiroinen. 

"They're a strong opponent," Cozens added. "We reloaded hard on pucks. They had a tough time getting out of their zone and that was all because of our track and reload. We showed our identity, which is speed and creating turnovers."

Jakob Pelletier had a great chance to make it 2-0 a little later on a clear break but was foiled by Piiroinen’s left pad. All the same, Canada drew the only two penalties of the period and outshot the Finns 17-1 in their most dominant period of the tournament.

Nothing changed in the second. Canada doubled its lead at 6:54 after incredible pressure and several shots, the final blow coming when Pelletier’s point-black shot bounced off Dylan Holloway and in.  

Six minutes later, after another sequence of intense pressure, they made it 3-0. This time it was a Bowen Byram point shot that bounced around in front where Peyton Krebs, back to the goal, smacked the puck between his legs and in.

Canada made its first mistake of the night early in the third when Cozens took the team's first penalty of the game deep in the Finland end. The Finns capitalized. The goal came off the stick of 16-year-old Brad Lambert whose shot went off the shaft of Canadian Thomas Hartley and over Levi's glove.

Canada withstood the Finnish confidence, however, and Cozens added his second of the night with an empty netter as Finland tried to tie the game in the final three minutes. That goal was his tournament-leading sixth and he now has eleven points, also tops.
Canada vs Finland - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship