Have you ever seen a happier bronze medal-winning team than the 2006 Finnish World Junior entry? Naturally, the reaction from the American dressing room was more muted after dropping a 4-2 decision to the hard-working Scandinavians. HockeyCanada.ca reporters caught up with both sides after the January 5 clash in Vancouver.
Hannu Aravirta, Head Coach, Finland: This was the 100th time we had been on the ice [together as a team] and it was certainly the most fun. We were even on the ice at 8 o’clock in the morning today. This is a huge win for Finnish ice hockey. In Canada ice hockey is the number one sport and it’s the same in Finland.
Jesse Joensuu, Finland: It’s very big. This is my first medal. I have never won a medal with my team or for the national team. I didn’t play my first period well, but of course I have to be happy when I score two goals--one ugly, one average.
Tuukka Rask, Finland: We had a goal, and that was to win a medal. Now it’s true. Of course [the post game celebration] was fun. It’s a team sport. The team wins together, so of course [the bronze] feels good. I probably took my game to another level. I thought that I was really strong last year and I learned a lot now I’m here and more experienced.
Lauri Korpikoski, Finland: The bronze medal is like gold to us. We really wanted that, and nobody believed in our ’86- and ’87-born guys in Finland. At the U18 championships, we were seventh or eighth. So this is like a gold medal for us. The two best teams are in the finals, and this is the best we’re going to get. I think [the Finnish people] are proud of us. We fought very hard this day. It’s a great win.
Walt Kyle, Head Coach, USA: I would like to congratulate the Finnish team. I think they did a great job. You could see at the end the emotion they had and how important the medal was to them. I think the best team won today.
Bobby Ryan, USA: Obviously we shot ourselves in the foot in the Swiss game, not winning that, not getting the bye. We took too many penalties and things like that. We couldn’t stay out of the box, and we couldn’t outmatch their chances, game after game. It was like that for the last couple of weeks. Finland outplayed us [today]. Maybe the effort level wasn’t there as much as it should have been, but that’s something we gotta control. I think we came out firing in the first. In the first ten minutes we probably outchanced them, and then it swayed their way a little bit, and in the long run they took advantage of more of their chances.
Robbie Schremp, USA: Last year, we didn’t have as much firepower. We thought we had a lot better chance this year, and we fell short again. They took their chances and buried them. We haven’t done that well the whole tournament, and we didn’t do it tonight either. I’m part of the blame as well. I’ve had plenty of chances all tournament and I haven’t put the puck in the net.
Jack Johnson, USA: We lost to a good team, and we gave it everything we had left, I don’t think we had a lot left, but I know there’s a lot of guys in there who gave it everything they had. We’re going to walk away with our heads held high and hopefully come back and do better next year. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It was a great experience, and I think it was a good thing for a lot of the guys, facing adversity. [As for the booing], it’s hockey and I get it pretty much everywhere I go, but I think it just made things a little bit more interesting.
Cory Schneider, USA: We came out kind of flat there. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the Finns. We kind of took it to them in the first period and played pretty well with a short bench. After that, we were just kind of flat toward the end. Their offense had been struggling the past couple of games, and it’s just frustrating to give up 50 shots. You can’t expect to win giving up that many shots.
Erik Johnson, USA: We underachieved as a team overall. We’re supposed to come in here and win a medal and that didn’t happen. But we worked hard as a team and it just didn’t work our way. The Swiss game kind of broke our spirits. If we were to have won that game, we would have gotten the bye into the semi-finals, and I think that would have totally changed our perspective on coming in and having a better chance of winning. it was definitely a neat experience, playing here as an underaged guy. I thought I had a pretty good tournament and I helped my team. It was a really cool experience coming here and trying to help out our guys win a medal for our country.
Phil Kessel, USA: They played a good game today and there’s nothing you can really do about it. Everyone’s disappointed. Everyone’s here to get a medal. If we played our game, I think we probably should have won a medal. But it didn’t work out this year. We’ll try again next year.
Kevin Porter, USA: We definitely have a skilled team and we expected to produce more. Things just weren’t going our way. We just weren’t getting the bounces. It’s a great honour to play for this team, no matter what happens. If we come in first or last, it’s always a great honour.