World Under 17 Hockey Challenge Champions
SWEDEN VS FINLAND
by DAVE PAUL
Saturday November 8, 2014
In a battle of Nordic rivals, it was Sweden knocking off Finland, 3-1, on Saturday afternoon at RBC Centre, to capture the bronze medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Championships.
Sweden opened the scoring early in the first, on a goal by Linus Weissbach, and they would not surrender the lead from that point on.
The Swedes also scored the only goal of the second period, with captain William Fallstrom blasting a one-timer past Finnish goalie Kimmo Rautiainen.
Finland's Riku Sihvonen made it 2-1 early in the third period and the Finns nearly tied the score shortly after that. They got the puck past Swedish netminder Filip Gustavsson on a goalmouth scramble. But the goal was disallowed and, to add insult to injury, the Finns Juha Jaaska was assessed a minor penalty for goaltender interference.
Although they didn't score on the power play, the Swedes Oskar Steen did add a third goal a short time later to ice the game.
Finnish coach Jussi Ahokas said, following the game, he wasn't happy with the penalty and negated goal but he wasn't blaming that play for his team's loss.
"I thought the Swedish player pushed our player," into the goalie, said Ahokas. "But we can't blame the referees. We had lots of chances to score. If you can't score on the chances we had, you don't deserve to win."
Finland actually outshot Sweden, 26-18.
Both Ahokas and Swedish coach Torgny Bendelin said the rivalry between the two countries definitely made for an intense bronze medal game.
"If you can't get up for a game against Sweden, there's something wrong," said Ahokas. "It's like you guys playing the U.S.," said Bendelin.
"Both teams want to win so badly," he said, adding the Finnish players, because they are underdogs from the smaller country always exhibit a "big heart" when they face Sweden.
Bendelin also made a point to pass out some compliments.
"This has been a fantastic tournament," he said. "The people who run it have been great ... the people in the hotels and restaurants have been great too."
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