Finns roll over Austria
by Andy Potts|21 MAY 2022
Austrian goalie David Kickert makes a save on Finnish forward Harri Pesonen.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
For the second time in two days, Finland produced a commanding performance to see off one of Group B’s outsiders. This time, Austria was the victim, outshot 39-19 on its way to a 3-0 loss.

Today’s result, coupled with Sweden’s earlier shoot-out loss to the USA, puts the Finns back in control of the race for top spot in the group. The Leijonat are four points clear of the Tre Kronor and can secure first place with a victory over Czechia in the final group stage game on Tuesday evening.

"It was a good 60 minutes from us," said defenceman Atte Ohtamaa. "We had a good balance in our game, we got a few goals there.

"But the tournament gets tougher all the time. You have to be at your best in each game and keep trying to do better than in your last game. I think we're moving in the right direction."

For Austria, meanwhile, the battle for survival in the top division comes down to a showdown with Great Britain on Monday. It’s advantage Austria so far, with Roger Bader’s team enjoying a three-point lead over the Brits, but that could be eroded tomorrow when GB takes on Latvia and potentially eliminated when the two go head-to-head in their final game of the tournament.

Austrian goalie David Kickert reckoned this was his team's toughest test so far in Tampere. "It was hard, but it was still fun," he said. "Finland played a great game. We didn't have much at all and they pressured us the whole game.

"They're a world-class team - Olympic champion, World champion. When we get the puck, we take a few seconds too long and there's already a player on us. When the Finnish players get the puck, they know exactly where it's going next."
Austria vs Finland - 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship
For the second time in two days, Finland produced a commanding performance to see off one of Group B’s outsiders. This time, Austria was the victim, outshot 39-19 on its way to a 3-0 loss.
AUT FIN 21 MAY 2022
Host nation Finland continued with the same roster that overpowered Great Britain 6-0 on Friday, but Austria made a change after its shoot-out loss to Latvia. Dominique Heinrich, who has worn the ‘A’ throughout the tournament, dropped out of the team in place of Philipp Wimmer who returned from a one-game suspension. Heinrich’s absence may well have been with one eye on that upcoming battle with Britain.

At the other end of the table, Finland arrived with renewed hopes of topping this section after Sweden dropped a shoot-out verdict in the lunchtime game against USA. With another big crowd behind it, the tournament host wasted little time in stamping its authority on the game. The opening goal came on 1:45 when Valtteri Filppula converted Teemu Hartikainen’s feed from behind the net.

"It was the same thing as yesterday really," Filppula said. "When you're playing against a team like this, it's always great to get an early goal. If you force them to come from behind, you make things a lot easier for yourself.

"I thought we started really well, got the early goal and stayed with the plan throughout the game. They play a good, structured game but we kept the pressure on them and the result went our way."

That ushered in a first period that the Finns dominated but struggled to get the puck past David Kickert for a second time. The Austrian goalie stopped 15 shots to keep his team in contention. Marko Anttila, Harri Pesonen, Juho Lammikko and Teemu Hartikainen all had good chances to extend the Finnish advantage, but the teams went into the intermission with just one goal between them.

That pressure continued at the start of the second period, with Pesonen almost doubling the lead when Austria failed to clear its lines and a quick pass from the point left the forward all alone in front of Pesonen’s net. Once again, though, the Vienna Capitals man shut the door.

But Kickert was powerless in the 24th minute. Mikko Lehtonen’s point shot was knocked down by Hartikainen, once again demonstrating his repertoire of skills in front of the net. The puck went to Mikael Granlund, who needed no second invitation to shoot past a goalie whose view of proceedings was comprehensively screened by Hartikainen’s limpet-like attachment to the doorstep.

"Teemu’s an awesome player, he can protect the puck better than anyone," Ohtamaa said of the centre's powerful performance. "He’s really strong in the corners, he creates those opportunities for all of us."

Austria offered little by way of attacking threat: Finland’s dominance was such that there was little prospect of Jussi Olkinuora having much work to do. However, the Finnish goalie had to be alert at the end of the second period when a breakaway on the PK saw Paul Huber fire in a testing shot and Ali Wukovits twice fire into the pads on the rebound.

The Austrians killed the remainder of that penalty and went on to create the first major opportunity of the third period. A speculative point shot from Kilian Zundel took a deflection and almost dropped for Benjamin Nissner. He was impeded as he attempted to stuff the loose puck home and Esa Lindell took a hooking call to give Austria its first power play of the game.

That was as good as it got for Austria, and teenage star Marco Kasper admitted his team was second best. "Unfortunately, the Finland team was much better than us today and that's why we lost," he said.

Finland was in no mood to let its grip on the game slip and extended its lead when Filppula surged forward once more and released Toni Rajala down the left-hand channel. His shot from the face-off spot reared up viciously at Kickert, grazing the goalie’s shoulder as it found a gap on the blocker side.

That was the end of the scoring as Finland closed out a comfortable victory. At the other end, Jussi Olkinuora recorded another shut-out - his third of the tournament - and the Finns have allowed just three goals in six games so far.

"What are we doing so well? Everything, more or less," said Olkinuora, a one-time Tappara Tampere junior. "We play well with the puck, we play well defensively, but we still have a ton of games to go, hopefully."
Austria vs Finland - 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship