International Ice Hockey Federation

Finns remain unbeaten

Finns remain unbeaten

Puljujarvi added, doesn’t play in win over Danes

Published 17.04.2016 22:49 GMT-4 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Finns remain unbeaten
GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA - APRIL 17: Finland's Eetu Tuulola #19 celebrates a first period goal against Denmark with Markus Niemelainen #21, Kasper Kotkansalo #36, Otto Somppi #24 and Markus Nurmi #27 during preliminary round action at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Finland defeated Denmark 4-1 on Sunday night to temporarily take over top spot in Group B. The Finns have played three games to second-place Canada's two.

Eeli Tolvanen scored twice for Finland, and Janne Kuokkanen and Eetu Tuulola added singles.

"These games are not the easiest to get prepared for," said Finnish captain Juuso Valimaki. "But we got four goals and we had lots of chances. Credit to Denmark for the way they fought. They blocked tons of shots and their goalie was good. We won 4-1, so that’s all that matters."

Christian Mathiasen-Wejse answered for Denmark. Some Danish players were sporting ice packs after the game.

"I think we played a pretty good game, but the Finnish guys are pretty good," said Mathiasen-Wejse. "They deserved to win. They are just better than us. But I thought we fought well."

The Finns outshot Denmark 46-10, as Leevi Laakso had a much more relaxing night between the pipes than his Danish counterpart Kasper Krog.

This was the fifth straight Finnish win over Denmark at the IIHF World U18 Championship, dating back to 2004.

Finland completes its round-robin on Tuesday versus Canada. Denmark's last preliminary game is Monday against the Czechs.

"It’s going to be a tough game," said Kuokkanen. "We have all the keys in our hands to win the game, but we have to use them well to get the three points."

The Finns opened the scoring at 7:38. Otto Makinen centered it from the wall to Kuokkanen, who calmly cruised in and beat Krog to the stick side for his third goal of the tournament.

Just 44 seconds later, Tuulola made it 2-0, lifting a wicked wrister from the right faceoff circle under the crossbar.

Denmark cut the deficit to 2-1 on the power play with 3:43 left in the first. Nikolaj Krag’s shot from inside the blueline was tipped in by Mathiasen-Wejse. The Danes were lucky to trail by just one after 20 minutes, after being outshot 16-4.

In the second period, the Finns let the Danes hang around for a while. With under nine minutes left, Denmark’s Joachim Blichfeldt rang one off the post.

Tolvanen finally gave Finland some breathing room at 14:16, one-timing home Aapeli Rasanen’s cross-ice feed on the rush.

Shots favored the Finns 17-1 in the third period, and they controlled the play. The Danes waited until the last moment to pull their goalie for an extra attacker. Tolvanen scored an empty-netter with 20 seconds left.

"I couldn’t ask more of the boys than they did today," said Danish coach Martin Struzinski. "They battled hard and they sacrificed themselves with blocked shots. Of course, I would like to have had more shots, but we worked very hard in our own zone."

Forward Jesse Puljujarvi has been added to Finland’s roster, but did not play in this game. Puljujarvi led the gold medal-winning Finnish team with 17 points in seven games at this year’s IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki. He was named a tournament all-star, Best Forward, and tournament MVP.

"It’s a big thing for us," said Valimaki. "He’s a great, great player. He’s a great team player too. So now we’ve got an even deeper lineup."

The 17-year-old Puljujarvi, who became available after Karpat Oulu was eliminated in the Liiga playoffs, is widely considered a top-three prospect for the NHL Draft. In last year’s U18 tournament, where Finland won silver, he had seven points in seven games.

 

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