Canada stays undefeated at world juniors with 6-3 win over Finland
EDMONTON — Captain Mason McTavish scored and notched a pair of assists Monday as Canada topped Finland 6-3 at the world junior hockey championship.
Connor Bedard and Ridly Greig also added a goal and a helper each, while Brennan Othmann, Tyson Foerester and William Dufour also found the back of the net for Canada (4-0-0). Olen Zellweger tallied three assists.
Joakim Kemell scored and contributed an assist, while Samuel Helenius and Roby Jarventie also had goals for Finland (3-1-0).
Canada’s Dylan Garand made 22 saves and Leevi Merilainen stopped 31 of 36 shots for the Finns.
The result means Canada finishes the preliminary round at the top of Group A and will face Group B’s Switzerland (1-3-0) in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Finland will also play in the quarterfinals but must wait for the outcome of Monday’s late game between Sweden (2-0-1) and Germany (2-0-1) to learn its opponent.
Dufour sealed the score at 6-3 with an empty-net goal with 1:47 left on the game clock.
A series of third-period penalties threatened to cost the Canadians.
Finland got its second stretch of five-on-three hockey with less than five minutes left on the clock when William Dufour joined Ethan del Mastro in the penalty box.
The Finns pulled Merilainen just as del Mastro’s penalty expired and with the extra man, Jarventie put a puck in off Garand’s glove to make it 5-3.
Finland had a prime opportunity to eat into Canada’s lead with a minute-long two-man advantage midway through the third.
Donovan Sebrango was sent to the box for high-sticking and less than a minute later, teammate Will Cuylee was tossed from the game for a knee-on-knee hit.
Canada weathered being down two men, then chewed through the four remaining minutes of the major penalty without conceding a goal.
Special teams were the difference maker on Monday, with the Canadians going 2-for-2 on the power play while Finland was 1-for-5.
A big goal early in the third whittled the Finns’ deficit to 5-2.
Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect Topi Niemela fired a shot from the point and Kemell tipped it in from the slot for his third goal of the tournament.
Canada called for a coach’s challenge for goaltender interference and after an extended video review, officials determined the goal was good. The Canadians did not receive a delay-of-game penalty because officials said the review was “inconclusive.”
The Canadians dominated the middle frame, outshooting the Finns 20-5 and taking a 5-1 lead.
McTavish gave his country its second power-play goal of the game 16:17 into the period after Finland’s Rubin Rafkin was called for interference.
Zellweger sent the Canadian captain a pass from inside the blue line and McTavish uncorked a one-timer that flew over Merilainen’s shoulder stick side.
The Anaheim Ducks’ prospect leads the tournament in scoring with 12 points (seven goals, five assists).
Thirty-one seconds into the second, Canada went up 4-1 after the Finnish goalie bobbled a shot by Joshua Roy.
Greig slid in on one knee to put the rebound in the back of the net with his third goal of the tournament.
Canada went into the first intermission up 3-1 after a late Finland goal.
A knot of players battled for the puck behind the Canadian net and Finland’s Kalle Vasisanen came up with it. He sent a pass to Helenius at the high hash marks and the L.A. Kings’ prospect got a shot up and over Garland’s shoulder with 57 seconds left in the period.
Bedard put away his third goal of the tournament in memorable fashion 17:19 into the first.
Canadian captain Mason McTavish sliced a cross-ice pass to the 17-year-old phenom at the blue line and Bedard skated into the faceoff circle, then ripped a blistering shot past Merilainen to make it 3-0.
A power-play strike boosted Canada’s lead to 2-0 midway through the opening frame after Helenius was called for slashing.
Greig’s shot ricocheted off Merilainen’s pad but Foerester was in position to poke the rebound in from the top of the crease as he slid past the net.
Finland got off to a strong start, outshooting the host nation 4-0 across the first five minutes of the game.
It was Canada that opened the scoring, though, 6:21 into the first.
Defenceman Zellweger fired a long bomb from inside the blue line and Othmann batted it in past Merilainen.
The play was reviewed for a potential high stick but the goal — Othmann’s second of the tournament — was determined to be good after officials reviewed the video.
Earlier Monday, Switzerland clinched its spot in the quarterfinals with a 3-2 win over Austria (0-0-4).
The final game of the tournament’s preliminary round will see Group B’s Sweden take on Germany later on Monday.
The winner of that game will battle Latvia (1-2-1) in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The loser will face Finland.
The reigning champion Americans (4-0-0) also went undefeated in round robin action and will see Czechia (1-2-1), the country commonly known as the Czech Republic, in the quarterfinals.
The semifinals are scheduled for Friday and the medal games will go Saturday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 15, 2022.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press