Finland captured just their second ever World Championship Gold Medal in dominant fashion against their cross-border rivals Sweden, crushing Tre Kronor 6-1 on goals from six different scorers to win their first Gold since 1995, and unify Gold with the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
The game seemed rather inconspicuous at the start, with both defences playing tight games, and sharp performances from Petri Vehanen and Viktor Fasth keeping the game scoreless after twenty minutes. Tre Kronor opened up the scoring 7:40 into the second, when Magnus Pääjärvi stole the puck on a brutal giveaway from Petteri Nokelainen, leaving him free to walk in alone on Vehanen for the go-ahead goal. Finland would equalize with seven seconds left in the second, when Jarkko Immonen, on a Finnish power play, blasted a point shot past Fasth, with Tuomo Ruutu screening, to even things up at 1-1 after forty minutes.
It was at the start of the third where the Swedish defence and Fasth essentially shut down, leaving the Leijonat to run roughshod in the third. Petteri Nokelainen and Niko Kapanen scored 46 seconds apart in the early minutes of the third, Nokelainen on a 3-on-1, and Kapanen on a one-timer, left wide open alone in front of Fasth. While it was conceivable that Sweden could equalize only down by two goals, all hope dissipated in the final 3:19 of the game, when the Leijonat struck three times in a span of 2:26, on goals from Janne Pesonen, Mika Pyörälä and Antti Pihlström, scoring against a lifeless Tre Kronor on a dump-and-chase breakaway, easy wrist shot and 3-on-2 break, respectively. Finland defeated their rivals for just the 21st time over the IHLC in history, winning their first Gold Medal in 16 years.
With the win, Finland retains the International Hockey Lineal Championship it won from Russia in the Semifinals, en route to the Gold Medal Game. Finland, currently in their 40th IHLC reign, defeats Sweden in their 65th meeting over the IHLC, and their first meeting for the title since the 2010 Olympic Preliminary Round, where the Swedes dispatched Finland 3-0 to capture the title. The win also ensures that the IHLC will now enter the 2011-12 Euro Hockey Tour, with Finland opening their defence on home at the Karjala Tournament in November against Russia.
The IHLC changed hands four times at the World Championships, with Switzerland entering the tournament with the title, defeating France and Belarus before losing to Canada in overtime on May 3. Canada successfully defended against the United States, Norway and Sweden, before losing the title to Russia in the Quarterfinals. Russia would then lose the IHLC a day later to Finland, leading to the Finland-Sweden final. For more, check out the IHLC @ IIHF World Championships page.
17:52 – PEN – Ekman-Larsson, interference
24:41 – PEN – Krüger, slashing
27:40 – GOAL – Pääjärvi
29:15 – PEN – Kapanen, hooking
34:25 – PEN – Nokelainen, boarding
39:30 – PEN – Petrasek, hooking
39:53 – PP GOAL – Immonen (Pesonen, Koivu)
42:35 – GOAL – Nokelainen (Pihlström)
43:21 – GOAL – Kapanen (Aaltonen, Komarov)
46:06 – PEN – Erixon, holding
56:41 – GOAL – Pesonen (Granlund)
57:16 – GOAL – Pyörälä (Koivu, Salmela)
59:05 – GOAL – Pihlström (Lajunen)
W: Vehanen (32-33)
L: Fasth (26-32)
SHOTS ON GOAL
13+9+10 = 32
12+11+10 = 33
Goaltenders: Teemu Lassila, Petri Vehanen. Defence: Topi Jaakola, Laase Kukkonen (A), Sami Lepistö, Janne Niskala, Pasi Puistola, Anssi Salmela, Ossi Väänänen, Jyrki Välivaara. Forwards: Juhamatti Aaltonen, Mikael Granlund, Jarkko Immonen, Niko Kapanen, Mikko Koivu (C), Leo Komarov, Jani Lajunen, Petteri Nokelainen, Janne Pesonen, Antti Pihlström, Mika Pyörälä, Tuomo Ruutu (A).
Goaltenders: Erik Ersberg, Viktor Fasth. Defence: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Tim Erixon, Daniel Fernholm, Carl Gunnarsson, Staffan Kronwall, David Petrasek (A), David Rundblad. Forwards: Mikael Backlund, Patrik Berglund (A), Jimmie Ericsson, Loui Eriksson, Marcus Krüger, Robert Nilsson, Magnus Pääjärvi, Niklas Persson, Jakob Silfverberg, Mattias Sjögren, Mattias Tedenby, Martin Thörnberg, Rickard Wallin (C).