LATE WINNER HELPS FINNS EDGE RUSSIA AT U17 CHALLENGE
JASON LA ROSE
QUISPAMSIS, N.B. – Valtteri Karnaranta buried a rebound with just three minutes to go, sending Finland into the win column at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a 2-1 victory over Russia on Monday afternoon.
With overtime looming, good work behind the net by Eero Niemi produced a quick shot from Joel Määttä, and Karnaranta was all over the second chance in the slot to put the Finns up for good.
Roni Hirvonen had the other goal for Finland and Max Väyrynen made 26 saves, none bigger than a right pad stop off a streaking Marat Khusnutdinov with 32 seconds to go and Russian netminder Semyon Sharabarin on the bench for an extra attacker.
Neither team mustered much in the way of shots in the first period – the Finns held a 6-4 advantage – but both managed a goal.
Hirvonen knocked in a centering pass from Oliver Suni just past the 12-minute mark before Ivan Didkovski took a long stretch pass from Artyom Grushnikov and beat Väyrynen past the blocker five minutes later.
Power-play futility was the story of the second period; the teams combined for five man advantages in the middle frame, but neither could break the deadlock. The Russians had the best chance, enjoying a two-man advantage for 1:56 late in the second period and early in the third, but came up empty.
Finland closes out the preliminary round Tuesday night against Canada Red (7:30 p.m. AT), while Russia takes on Sweden in its prelim finale in the matinee (12 p.m. AT).