ANAHEIM, CA -- Team Canada scored six straight second-quarter goals to overcome an early 3-1 deficit and defeat Finland 11-5 in one semifinal to advance to the gold-medal final game of the 1998 IIHF World In-Line Hockey Championship.
Canada will play the winner of the other semifinal game between heavily favored United States, the two-time defending champion, and Switzerland at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim on Saturday night, beginning at 7:30 PM PDT. Canada will be attempting to win the championship for the first time in three tries, following two straight silver-medal performances in finals won the Team USA.
Tuomas Kalliomaki gave the Finns a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 1:41 of the opening period, and Finland built a 3-1 lead on scores by Timo Makinen and Janne Suuronen.
But shortly past the mid-point of the second quarter, Doug Ast launched Canada's six-goal blitz with the first of his two goals, as the momentum swung 180 degress. Hugo Belanger, St. Cyr, with his second, Glen Metropolit and Kevin St. Jacques, who scored with 11 seconds remaining in the period, finished off the splurge.
At the beginning of the second half, the Finns replaced goalie Petri Engman, who faced 25 shots, with Pasi Raty.
Led by a pair of goals by Mark Woolf, Canada added four more goals in a row to build an 11-3 lead. Victor Gervais and Darren Perkins also scored third-quarter goals as Canada took a commanding lead.
The Finns added two fourth-quarter goals as the game wound down.
In relegation games on Friday, Germany defeated Italy 11-4, while Austria surprised Russia by 6-5.
"Obviously, we're right where we want to be right now," said Team Canada head coach Doug McCarthy. "We've been trying to build to a crescendo and hopefully we'll reach our peak tomorrow night."
The expectation is that Canada will face off against the host team and defending champion
Team USA, a swift-skating, highly skilled team.
"We can't allow them to utilize all that speed," said McCarthy. "We're going to have to turn and get in front of them. They're the fastest team in the tournament.
"Personally, I think it will be the top two teams in the tournament going head to head. I think that's what the fans want, and it's certainly what we want. We've done our part now and I'm sure the Americans will do their part."