A late power play marker from Eeli Tolvanen was the difference in a tight 4-3 victory for Finland over Canada to wrap up the 2017 Karjala Tournament, clinching both the tournament win and the International Hockey Lineal Championship for the Finns.
Canada took advantage of top tournament goaltender Mikko Koskinen being given the night off, as Gilbert Brulé tapped in a one-timer off a Matt Ellison wraparound attempt past Eeero Kilpeläinen just 2:22 into regulation, giving Canada the early lead. The Leijonat would strike back just under ten minutes later, with Jani Lajunen completing a perfectly-executed tic-tac-toe passing play, instigated by Mika Pyörälä blocking a botched Canadian clearing attempt, streaking in to beat Ben Scrivens in close to tie things at 1-1 after the first period.
The second period saw the power struggle continue, as each side came away with a power play tally to put things at 2-2 after 40 minutes. First it was Canada retaking the lead, with defender Maxim Noreau blasting a bomb from the point, past a well-screened Kilpeläinen. Finland again would equalize ten minutes later, with just six seconds left in the period, when captain Sami Lepistö, fed another beautiful drop pass from Pyörälä, walked into the Canadian zone uninterrupted and wired a wrister past a stunned Scrivens.
Finland took their first lead of the evening on a tremendous individual effort by Miro Heiskanen, who saw his first attempt to deke through Canada’s defence thwarted, only to pick up a loose puck amidst the commotion he left in front of the net, roofing in the go-ahead goal 2:48 into the third. Christian Thomas would squash the lead just under four minutes later, intercepting a brutal Jyrki Jokipakka giveaway deep in the Finland zone and burying it past Kilpeläinen, evening things up at 3-3 again. But it was tournament star Eeli Tolvanen and his hot stick that lifted the Leijonat to victory, wiring a laser low blocker side after a nifty give-and-go with Lepistö on the power play to beat Scrivens, which would ultimately stand as the game winner.
With the victory, Finland retains the International Hockey Lineal Championship, their 51st, which they won from Sweden just yesterday. This was the first IHLC matchup between Finland and Canada since May’s World Championships, where Canada ended Finland’s last reign in a 5-2 victory in Paris. The win was just Finland’s ninth against Canada for the IHLC, out of 31 meetings dating back to 1951, and the first since the 2016 Worlds in Russia. The win also means that Finland will hold the IHLC until next month’s Channel One Cup, where they are set to first face the Czechs in Prague on December 13.
02:22 – GOAL – Brulé (Ellison, Wolski)
07:55 – PEN – Kinrade, delay of game
12:19 – GOAL – Lajunen (Manninen, Pyörälä)
17:25 – PEN – Lepistö, high sticking
27:42 – PEN – Ohtamaa, holding
29:36 – PP GOAL – Noreau (Purcell)
33:09 – PEN – Lepistö, roughing
33:09 – PEN – Bourque, roughing
34:47 – PEN – Després, slashing
39:13 – PEN – Bourque, cross checking
39:54 – PP GOAL – Lepistö (Pyörälä)
42:48 – GOAL – Heiskanen (Lajunen, Erkinjuntti)
46:25 – GOAL – Thomas
52:02 – PEN – Bourque, high sticking
52:36 – PP GOAL – Tolvanen (Lepistö, Pyörälä)
58:49 – PEN – Lepistö, tripping
59:20 – PEN – Lee, hooking
W: Kilpeläinen (25-28)
L: Scrivens (26-30)
SHOTS ON GOAL
14+7+9 = 30
10+7+11 = 28
Goaltenders: Eeero Kilpeläinen, Mikko Koskinen. Defence: Miro Heiskanen, Jyrki Jokipakka, Mikko Lehtonen, Sami Lepistö (C), Niko Mikkola, Atte Ohtamaa, Jesse Virtanen. Forwards: Marko Anttila, Antti Erkinjuntti, Julius Junttila, Petri Kontiola, Jarno Koskiranta, Jani Lajunen, Sakari Manninen, Mika Niemi, Jukka Peltola, Antti Pihlström, Mika Pyörälä, Veli-Matti Savinainen, Eeli Tolvanen.
Goaltenders: Justin Peters, Ben Scrivens. Defence: Jesse Blacker, Simon Després, Chay Genoway, Geoff Kinrade, Chris Lee (A), Maxim Noreau, Karl Stollery. Forwards: Rene Bourque (C), Gilbert Brulé, Andrew Ebbett, Matt Ellison, Quinton Howden, Rob Klinkhammer, Brandon Kozun, Teddy Purcell, Mason Raymond, Nick Spaling, Christian Thomas, Linden Vey, Wojtek Wolski (A).