Finnish power play ousts Germany
by Lucas Aykroyd|17 AUG 2022
Finland celebrates after captain Roni Hirvonen's first-period power play goal in a 5-2 quarter-final win over Germany at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship.
photo: Chris Tanouye / HHOF-IIHF Images
With four power play goals, Finland won its special teams battle with a determined German squad, prevailing 5-2 in Wednesday’s first World Junior quarter-final at Edmonton’s Rogers Place. Roby Jarventie led the charge with two goals and two assists.

"We have a huge amount of skill on the power play," said Jarventie, a top Ottawa Senators prospect. "Every player is pretty special, and we stick to our plan. We take the shots when they’re available and move the puck around well."

Moving into the semi-finals, Finland will need to address its penalty-killing woes, though. Coach Antti Pennanen's team also conceded a pair of PP goals to German ace Bennet Rossmy.

The Finns, who took the bronze medal last year in Edmonton, have won three of the last 10 gold medals (2014, 2016, 2019) and five all-time (including 1987 and 1998). They'll play for a medal again at these 2022 World Juniors.

Germany showed grit, heart, and patience, but coach Tobias Abstreiter's offence simply couldn't keep pace with Finland's big guns in the end.

"It was the little things," Rossmy said. "They scored three quick goals, but we had them in the second, I think. We outworked them, but it’s tough. Every day we played better and better."

For Finland, Kasper Simontaival and Joel Maatta tallied a goal and an assist apiece. Captain Roni Hirvonen added a single. Aleksi Heimosalmi chipped in two assists, and Joakim Kemell also had two helpers to take sole possession of second place in the scoring race (3+8=11) behind Canada's Mason McTavish (7+6=13).

It wasn't exactly a shooting gallery, as final shots favoured Finland 22-21. Finland's Leevi Merilainen prevailed over Germany's Florian Bugl in the head-to-head matchup of starting netminders.
Early on, the Finns controlled play. Simontaival opened the scoring at 3:37 on a slick give-and-go with Jarventie. The sprawling Bugl had no chance as the Los Angeles Kings prospect fired his third goal of these World Juniors into the gaping cage.

The Finnish power play sizzled at 9-for-16 (56.2 percent) in the preliminary round, including a five-goal explosion in the 9-3 win over Slovakia. It was on fire again in the quarter-final.

After Bugl stopped Kasper Puutio’s initial shot, Simontaival backhanded the puck cross-crease to Hirvonen, who was Johnny-on-the-spot to tap it in at the goalie’s left post for a 2-0 lead at 11:06. It was also his third goal of the 2022 World Juniors.

"We focused on having a good start, since it was an early game," Jarventie said. "We wanted to be ready to go, and we were. We focused on puck management. We were smart with the puck and didn’t turn it over in the wrong spots."

Past the midway mark of the first, Merilainen foiled Joshua Samanski – whose end-to-end rush goal versus the U.S in the opener was possibly the tournament’s best – with back-to-back stops in tight.

Finland’s penalty-killing has been an Achilles heel in Edmonton, functioning at a tournament-worst 50 percent heading into the quarter-finals. That narrative didn’t change when the Germans cut the deficit to 2-1 on their first power play at 12:50.

For the third consecutive game, Rossmy got his team’s first goal, banging in a loose puck on the doorstep. The towering 19-year-old World Junior rookie also captured a DEL title with Eisbaren Berlin last season.

Suomi wasted little time in replying. During Finland's second man advantage, Bugl robbed Simontaival from the slot with a slick glove grab. But he couldn’t prevent Jarventie from making it 3-1 with a lethal wrister from the right faceoff circle at 14:48.

In the second period, Finland's pace lulled significantly. Even with defenceman Maximilian Glotzl off for tripping, the Germans kept their opponents shotless till well past the halfway point. Captain Luca Munzenberger added physical bite, slamming Hirvonen in open ice in the defensive zone and forcing Simontaival into Bugl's right post.

The Germans made it 3-2 on a beautiful power play goal by Rossmy at 17:21. From the top of the right faceoff circle, Haakon Hanelt found Rossmy at Merilainen's crease, and he pivoted to roof a backhander past the Finnish goalie for his fourth goal of the tournament. The power move would have made Sidney Crosby or Leon Draisaitl proud.

"We’ve been in that situation before, so we weren’t rattled by that," Jarventie said. "We don’t want to give them anything, but they played a good game and gave us a tough fight. We just re-set and re-focused and got ready for the next shift."

The Finns caught a break early in the third period when Rossmy was dinged for delay of game after flipping the puck over the glass in the German zone. But they frittered it away without any meaningful threats.

Germany couldn't contain the Finnish power play after Yanick Proske went off for hooking, however. Another Jarventie laser proved to be the back-breaker, making it 4-2 at 6:22.

With 4:07 remaining, Jarventie found Maatta down low with the man advantage, and he pivoted deftly to beat Bugl on the forehand for a 5-2 edge. Auf Wiedersehen, Deutschland.

"We knew they had a good power play, so we tried to stay out of the box, but it’s hard," Rossmy said. "They were very good and made the most of their chances."

Dating back to the 1977 World Juniors and including the West Germany era, Germany has never defeated Finland at this tournament. This was Finland’s 24th consecutive win.

The German quest for their first U20 medal ever will have to wait until the 2023 World Juniors, starting in December in Halifax and Moncton.
Finland vs Germany (QF) - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship