Sometimes you need a bit of luck to win a hockey game, and Finland found that out in their quarterfinal matchup with Canada in the World Junior Championships.
With the group stage over, its knockout time. Denmark and Kazakhstan are fighting each other to stay in the top group for next year (Kazakhstan currently have a 1 – 0 lead in the relegation rounds after a 4 – 3 win in game one which saw Denmark finally score a goal), and for the rest of the competition a loss see’s them out of the tournament.
The first matchup of the quarter final brought a shock of its own. After once again going through the group stage undefeated, Sweden were expected to be one of the medal favourites especially when going up against a lower ranked nation in Switzerland in the first knockout round. However, a dominant performance by Luca Hollenstein with a 41 save shutout saw the Swiss advance with a 2 – 0 victory with goals from Yannick Bruschweiller and Luca Wyss.
Game two saw all the drama as Finland took on the hosts Canada in what ended as a big goaltender duel between Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen of Finland, and Michael DiPietro of Canada.
The Canadians almost edged their way to the semi-finals, a goal from Ian Mitchell in the second period was almost the only one of the game, with Luukkonen going on to stop 24 shots on the night, while DiPietro held firm at the other end in a game where the Finns heavily outshot the hosts.
With time ticking down, the Finns needed a break and finally got one as Eeli Tolvanen saw his first attempt bounce off the side netting, before picking up his own rebound and banking it off DiPietro to force overtime, where more luck was in store.
Canada were given a penalty shot in the extra frame but Maxime Comtois couldn’t bury his opportunity, and then later in the session with Canada looking solid, Noah Dobson’s stick broke when he had a chance at a one timer, and with Finland picking up the loose puck, they burst down the ice before Toni Utunen fired his shot over the shoulder of DiPietro to send Finland through and crash the Canadians party.
In the remaining two quarterfinal matchups it was more business as usual, as expected the USA defeated the Czech Republic 3 – 1, with Russia taking a big 8 – 3 victory over Slovakia to set up a semifinal meeting with the US, while Switzerland will face Finland with hopes of advancing to the final.