FINLAND PULVERIZES HAPLESS NORWEGIANS
By Lucas Aykroyd |
Early in Friday’s Finland-Norway game at the Pacific Coliseum, a leather-lunged spectator bellowed: “Let’s
wake up, Norway!” The Norwegians obviously weren’t listening. The Finns led 7-0 after the opening 20 minutes,
the biggest single-period offensive outburst of this tournament, and cruised to a 9-1 victory.
As a result, the winner of Saturday’s Switzerland-Finland Group A showdown will advance to the Final Round,
while the loser will join the Norwegians in the Relegation Round. If there’s a tie, Switzerland will advance,
having one more point thanks to its 2-2 tie with the USA.
Perttu Lindgren earned a goal and four helpers, Lauri Tukonen notched a goal and three assists, Aki Seitsonen
scored two goals and an assist, Timo Seppanen added two goals, and Lauri Korpikoski had two assists to lead
the way for Finland. Also scoring for the Finns were Juho Jokinen, Henri Heino, and Janne Kolehmainen.
“We had to win this game, so it was like a playoff game,” said Lindgren. “Tomorrow it’s the same kind of
“I said to [Lindgren] in the morning for him to wake up,” said Finnish Head Coach Hannu Aravirta. “He’s very
skillful and played for the whole season in the Finnish League. He’s a very talented player, and hopefully he
will go on tomorrow.”
Dennis Sveum replied for the Norwegians, who have lost all four of their Preliminary Round games.
Goalie Tuukka Rask made 16 stops to earn the win for Finland, while his mates fired 42 shots at Norwegian
starter Ruben Smith and his replacement, Lars Haugen.
Norway didn’t record its first shot on goal until the 7:47 mark. The Finns would rack up a 24-1 edge in the
Just 1:10 in, Finland’s Timo Seppanen opened the scoring with a long wrister from the left point that beat
Smith, who didn’t seem to see the puck, high to the glove side.
The Finns went up 2-0 at 3:26 when Perttu Lindgren whacked in an Aki Seitsonen rebound from just outside the
crease to Smith’s right.
At 8:49, it was 3-0 when Seppanen scored an exact replica of his first goal from the point. Norwegian Head
Coach Petter Thoresen had seen enough and yanked Smith in favour of Lars Haugen.
But it made no difference. At 12:34, working with the man advantage, Juho Jokinen powered a slapper from the
center point that went through traffic in front and through Haugen, giving Finland a 4-0 lead.
At 13:53, Jokinen fell over and twisted his knee by the boards near the faceoff circle to Rask’s right, and
had to be helped off. He would not return to action. Doctors will evaluate his condition on Saturday.
Then the Finns struck for two power play goals.
At 15:30, Tukonen took a pass from Lindgren and knifed through the Norwegian defence, deking Haugen and
slipping the puck between his legs to make it 5-0.
The Norwegians coughed up the puck tragically behind the goal line to Haugen’s right and in the confusion
that ensued, Henri Heino banged in a loose puck while the goalie sprawled at 17:13.
With 1:28 left in the period, Lindgren centered the puck from behind the Norwegian goal line to Seitsonen,
who caught Haugen going the wrong way and fired it in stick side.
“We had a really good attitude in the first period,” said Lindgren. “We did our best so we didn’t have to
think in the second and third periods.”
A big cheer went up when Norway got its second shot on goal in the second minute of the second period.
But at 9:04 of the middle frame, the Finns extended their lead to 8-0 when Seitsonen’s shot from the top of
the faceoff circle whizzed past Haugen.
Buzzing the Finnish net with Janne Kolehmainen off for interference, the Norwegians finally got on the board
when Dennis Sveum whacked home a rebound at 15:10 with Rask sprawling. The sympathetic crowd cheered
With 38 seconds left in the second period, the Norwegians thought they had cut the Finnish lead to six goals,
but it was ruled that the puck had been knocked in with a high stick.
Midway through the third period, Janne Kolehmainen made it 9-1 Finland when he roofed a rebound past
Finland’s Player of the Game was Perttu Lindgren and Norway’s was Mathis Olimb.
“I think the whole tournament we’ve been playing better and better,” said Aravirta.
The game, which drew 10,766 spectators, started about 25 minutes late due to rink glass repairs after a pane
was shattered during the warm-up.
The most lopsided score in World Junior history was Sweden’s 20-1 waxing of Japan in 1993, and in that game,
the Swedes only led 3-1 after the first period.
PREVIEW: FINLAND - NORWAY
By Daniel Wilson
Finland: In a game featuring two teams whom Canadian fans vocally supported during games against the USA,
it will be interesting to see which team the fans side with in this encounter. (It’ll probably be the
underdog Norwegians.) Finland is coming off a tense 6-5 loss to the Americans on Wednesday, Dec. 28, which
dropped their record to two losses. Depending on tonight’s outcome, the Finnish squad still has a great
chance to qualify for the Final Round, as their remaining game on New Year’s Eve is against Switzerland.
Finland’s six goals have come from five different players, with forward Aki Seitsonen leading the way with
two tallies. Defenceman Tommi Leinonen and forward Leo Komarov have two helpers each. The Finns will need to
bring a well-balanced game of strong defence and high-pressure offence to improve on their current 6-11 goal
differential. They have only 51 shots on goal, including one shot apiece from highly touted forwards, Perttu
Lindgren and Jesse Joensuu, and that needs to improve too. None of the team’s players have a positive
plus-minus rating, with Joensuu at a team-worst -3. Komarov, having already accumulated 20 PIM, needs to show
better discipline, physically and verbally. Goalie Tuukka Rask will likely return between the pipes, after
backing up in Finland’s last contest. If so, the Toronto draft pick will have to play better than he did on
Boxing Day against the Canadians in order to win back the confidence of Head Coach Hannu Aravirta. Finland is
the favourite going into this game, and these guys will definitely need to score a big win to restore their
bruised egos as they head into a tougher game with the Swiss.
Norway: The Norwegians enter the last game of their Round Robin with three consecutive losses, including
an 11-2 thrashing administered by the USA. Regardless of their performance tonight, they will almost
definitely end up in the Relegation Round, where they will have to fight to remain at the elite level for
next year’s tournament. So fans of this squad should probably circle Tuesday, January 3 on their calendars.
The team has only scored two goals so far in the tournament, allowing 17. Norway has been shut out twice, by
Switzerland and Canada, so generating offence is obviously a top priority. Norway’s two goals in the tourney,
both of which came on the power play, were scored by forward Mathis Olimb and defenceman Dennis Sveum. Olimb
leads the Norwegians with 10 shots on goal, accounting for 17 per cent of their 56 total shots. On defence,
the team has given up many good scoring opportunities. Defenceman Alexander Bonsaksen is a minus-6, while
forward Mats Aasen is a minus-4. After enduring a penalty-filled game with Canada on Thursday, the Norwegians
will have to keep their emotions in check and stay out of the box, as they’ve given up 32 shorthanded
opportunities, leading to nine power play goals against. The one strong point for the Norwegians has been
their goaltending. Despite giving up 17 goals in three games, the goalies have turned away 118 shots in that
time. In fact, goalie Ruben Smith, who will likely start tonight for the team, has amassed an .897 save
percentage. As usual, the forecast calls for a rain of pucks in the Norwegian end.