Just another day at the office for the boys in blue and white. Finland stayed perfect in Group A with a 7-1 dismantling of underdog Austria on Monday at Rogers Place.
Ville Koivunen scored twice and added an assist for Finland and Brad Lambert racked up a goal and two assists. Their linemate Samuel Helenius added his team-leading third goal and an assist. This line has emerged as an early difference-maker. With eight points on the afternoon, they have now amassed 13 points in total.
“They have a good relationship and they are good hockey players,” said Finnish coach Antti Pennanen. “Brad Lambert is skillful and fast. Helenius wins the battles. Koivunen has good hockey sense. It’s a really good combination.”
For coach Antti Pennanen’s team, Kasper Simontaival and Kalle Väisänen added singles, and Karri Aho and Joel Määttä chipped in two assists apiece.
The Finns outshot the Austrians 48-9 and were full value for their second straight victory as netminder Juha Jatkola enjoyed his World Junior debut.
“It feels good,” said Aho. “You know, we played pretty well today. It’s always good to win.”
Suomi, who settled for bronze last time in Edmonton, are aiming to capture their first World Junior gold medal since Kaapo Kakko’s late 3-2 winner against the Americans in the 2019 final in Vancouver.
Martin Urbanek replied with Austria’s first goal of the tournament. The Austrians had to quarantine after getting one positive COVID-19 test result and did not know whether they would get to play Finland until early Monday morning.
“We had heavy legs after having to stay in the hotel the entire day yesterday,” said Urbanek. “Such things can happen. We did the best we can to prepare and had a good workout.”
There will be no relegated teams at the 2022 World Juniors, but it’ll be a challenge for the Austrians to secure any points in the preliminary round. In 2021, they were outscored 29-1 in just four games. Life doesn’t get any easier in Group A as they face Canada on Tuesday.
“It was a good experience last year,” said Austrian starting goalie Sebastian Wraneschitz. “We are happy to be back with this experience and want to win games here.”
On Finland’s first goal at 3:39, Lambert picked right up where he left off with his two-assist outing in the 3-1 win over Germany. The 18-year-old JYP attacker aggressively circled the Austrian net and found Koivunen in front. Koivunen beat lunging Austrian goalie Wraneschitz.
Limited to two goals and four assists so far in his second full Liiga season, Lambert – whose stock as a prospective 2022 NHL first-round pick had dropped recently – is just another example of how suiting up at the World Juniors can turbocharge a struggling youngster’s confidence.
The Finnish snipers kept the pressure coming. Simontaival – whose four goals on the 2021 bronze medal team were second only to captain Anton Lundell’s six – rang one off the iron from close range. Joakim Kemell did the same on a long blast.
The relentless approach paid off with a 2-0 gap at 18:02. A forechecking Koivunen stole the puck behind the net and sent a backhanded centering pass to Helenius, who fired home his team-leading third goal of these World Juniors. Shots favoured Finland 21-4 through 20 minutes.
“Overall, we had a lot of scoring chances and we managed the puck very well,” said Pennanen.
In the second period, Simontaival capitalized on a rebound for his first goal of these World Juniors at 4:11. He took a nasty cross-check from Marco Kasper after scoring, and a scrum ensued. The Austrian captain was sent off along with Määttä with coincidental roughing minors.
When Helenius was penalized for holding, Austria exploited its 4-on-3 man advantage effectively. Luca Auer fed a short pass to Urbanek, who blew a one-timer over Jatkola’s glove to cut the deficit to 3-1 at 5:39.
“It was a nice feeling to score the goal, a nice power-play goal, and I got a good pass,” said Urbanek.
Pennanen’s boys swiftly kiboshed Austria’s comeback hopes, making it 4-1 at 6:34 off an offensive zone faceoff. Aho floated a point shot that deflected off Väisänen’s back and eluded Wraneschitz.
At 8:40 of the third period, Koivunen got Finland’s fifth goal with a show of dexterity. Lambert sent the puck on net from the point, and Koivunen, falling while checked, managed to backhand the loose puck behind his back into the open side. There was a miniature echo of Alexander Ovechkin’s famous “The Goal” versus the host Phoenix Coyotes on 16 January 2006.
“Brad shot and the puck hit my skate,” said Koivunen. “I only tried to shoot and then I fell. I only try to score goals. I don’t know!”
Niemelä potted his first of the tournament on a centre point blast at 10:25 to put Finland up 6-1. Lambert got the seventh goal unassisted at 14:13 when Wraneschitz inadvertently handed the puck to the Finnish forward and surrendered a five-hole marker.
On Wednesday, the Finns can expect a bigger challenge against the Czechs. Coach Karel Mlejnek’s team grabbed a 3-1 first period lead against 2021 silver medalists Canada before falling 6-3 in their first game. Fans can expect another exciting battle.
“It’s going to be a high-level game for sure, a demanding game,” said Pennanen.
03:29 – 🇫🇮 GOAL – Koivunen (Lambert, Helenius)
18:02 – 🇫🇮 GOAL – Helenius (Koivunen)
19:25 – 🇫🇮 PEN – Järventie, high sticking
24:11 – 🇫🇮 GOAL – Simontaival (Määttä, Aho)
24:11 – 🇦🇹 PEN – Kasper, roughing
24:11 – 🇫🇮 PEN – Määttä, roughing
25:17 – 🇫🇮 PEN – Helenius, holding
25:39 – 🇦🇹 PP GOAL – Urbanek (Auer, Thaler)
26:34 – 🇫🇮 GOAL – Väisänen (Aho, Päivärinta)
34:55 – 🇫🇮 PEN – Sablattnig, hooking
35:09 – 🇫🇮 PEN – Niemelä, checking to the head
44:27 – 🇫🇮 PEN – Niemelä, interference
48:40 – 🇫🇮 GOAL – Koivunen (Lambert, Puutio)
50:25 – 🇫🇮 GOAL – Niemelä (Määttä, Nurmi)
54:13 – 🇫🇮 GOAL – Lambert
W: 🇫🇮 Jatkola (8-9)
L: 🇦🇹 Wraneschitz (41-48)
SHOTS ON GOAL
🇫🇮 21+17+10 = 48
🇦🇹 4+2+3 = 9
🇫🇮 Goaltenders: Joel Blomqvist, Juha Jatkola. Defence: Karri Aho, Aleksi Heimosalmi, Topi Niemelä (A), Petteri Nurmi, Kasper Puutio (A), Ruben Rafkin, Eemil Viro. Forwards: Samuel Helenius, Roni Hirvonen (C), Roby Järventie, Oliver Kapanen, Roni Karvinen, Joakim Kemell, Ville Koivunen, Brad Lambert, Juuso Mäenpää, Joel Määttä, Sami Päivärinta, Kasper Simontaival, Kalle Väisänen.
🇦🇹 Goaltenders: Leon Sommer, Sebastian Wraneschitz. Defence: Luca Erne, Lukas Hörl, Lorenz Lindner, Matteo Mitrovic, Lukas Necesany, David Reinbacher, Tobias Sablattnig, Christoph Tialler, Martin Urbanek (A). Forwards: Luca Auer, Mathias Böhm, Tim Geifes, Maximilian Hengelmüller, Marco Kasper (C), Oskar Maier, Kilian Rappold, Vinzenz Rohrer, Lucas Thaler (A), Johannes Tschurnig, Finn van Ee.
|🇫🇮 FINLAND (C)
(previous 23 Dec 2021)
|First IHLC Meeting (FIN vs. AUT)
|Previous IHLC Meeting (FIN vs. AUT)
|Last IHLC Game
🇫🇮 FIN 3-1 GER 🇩🇪 – 26 Dec 2021 – WJC – Edmonton 🇨🇦
|Next IHLC Game
🇫🇮 FIN 1-0 CZE 🇨🇿 (FF) – 29 Dec 2021 – WJC – Edmonton 🇨🇦