Finland put on a defensive masterpiece in the World Championship Semifinals, shutting down all aspects of the Czechia offense en route to a 3-0 victory. With the win, Finland advances to its first Gold Medal Game since 2011, with the International Hockey Lineal Championship in tow.
Finland started their shutdown game early, holding the Czechs to only six total shots in the first, while team scoring leader Jori Lehterä opened the scoring for the Leijonat with a backhander over Alexander Salák to take the 1-0 lead. The dominance carried into the second, with the Finns not only holding the Czechs to seven shots, but successfully killing off back-to-back penalties. They then increased the lead to 2-0 with a special teams tally of their own, when Petri Kontiola fed a pass across the goal mouth to a waiting Jarkko Immonen, who potted the puck through Salák’s five hole for the power play marker.
With the Czechs failing to stay out of the penalty box at the end of the second and into the third, they were unable to garner any major offensive opportunities, being held to only seven shots in the third, and unable to solve the red-hot Rinne. Lehterä put the final nail in the coffin with an empty net goal with 11 seconds remaining, punching Finland’s ticket to the Gold Medal Game against Russia, a team bent on revenge against the Finns for orchestrating Russia’s early exit from the Sochi Olympics in February.
With the win, Finland retains the International Hockey Lineal Championship they won from Canada in the Quarterfinals, their 48th IHLC reign. Canada entered the World Championships as IHLC champion, and the title passed through the hands of France, Italy, Denmark and Canada before Finland’s victory in the Quarterfinals. This is Finland’s first IHLC since December 2013, when they won the IHLC to carry into the Sochi Olympics. This was the first IHLC meeting between Finland and Czechia since November, when Finland defeated the Czechs 3-2 at the Karjala Tournament. They will now take the IHLC to the finals versus Russia.
08:57 – GOAL – Lehterä (Hietanen, Mäntylä)
09:13 – PEN – Jokinen, holding
14:25 – PEN – Hertl, holding
20:39 – PEN – Kontiola, cross checking
26:25 – PEN – Palola, tripping
30:27 – PEN – Zámorský, high sticking
31:02 – PP GOAL – Immonen (Kontiola, Karalahti)
37:40 – PEN – Červenka, slashing
44:54 – PEN – Rolinek, interference
48:31 – PEN – Jágr, slashing
59:49 – EN GOAL – Lehterä (Komarov, Immonen)
W: Rinne (20-20)
L: Salák (23-25)
SHOTS ON GOAL
12+6+8 = 26
6+7+7 = 20
Goaltenders: Mikko Koskinen, Pekka Rinne. Defence: Juuso Hietanen, Jere Karalahti, Tommi Kivistö, Ville Lajunen, Tuukka Mäntylä, Jyri Marttinen, Atte Ohtamaa. Forwards: Erik Haula, Tommi Huhtala, Jarkko Immonen, Olli Jokinen (C), Pekka Jormakka, Leo Komarov (A), Petri Kontiola, Jori Lehterä (A), Iiro Pakarinen, Olli Palola, Jere Sallinen, Tomi Sallinen, Miikka Salomäki.
Goaltenders: Jakub Kovář, Alexander Salák. Defence: Michal Jordán, Jakub Kindl, Jan Kolář, Ondřej Němec (A), Martin Ševc, Ondřej Vitásek, Petr Zámorský. Forwards: Roman Červenka, Tomáš Hertl, Jiří Hudler, Jaromír Jágr (A), Jakub Klepiš, Jan Kovář, Jiří Novotný, Tomáš Rolinek (C), Martin Růžička, Jiří Sekáč, Vladimir Sobotka, Michal Vondrka, Martin Zaťovič.