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World Championships 2011 - Quarter Finals - Day 2

Friday, 13th May 2011

Finland 4-1 Norway

Norway set out their defensive stall right from the start, playing 4 skaters across the blue line to stifle every Finnish attack. First real chance fell to Valivaara but his shot from the high slot was well held by Haugen. The game was very physical with plenty of aggressive fore checking without the afters we saw yesterday in the USA game. That seems to be the main difference between the European style and the North American version of the game. On 5.18 Nokelainen and Tollefsen had a bout of handbags behind the net and both sat out 2 minute roughing penalties. Best chance of the game came at 6.23 when Aaltonen slipped inside a defender and pinged a shot off the crossbar with Haugen absolutely nowhere. So far, the game is all Finland with the shot count 9-1 in their favour.

Norway came more into the game in the second half of the period and with 16.23 on the clock, sustained pressure resulted in a holding penalty for Jarkko Immonen. Norway’s best chance of the game came with 1.02 left when Lars Spets found himself all alone in front of the net but sent the chance wide of Haugen. End of the period 0-0 with Finland having the best of the period but Norway finding some confidence late on in the stanza. Shot count was given as 14-14. I just wonder if the goal judge behind Vehanen has been tippling some of the local brew before the game. No way on this earth did Norway have 14 shots on goal.

Norway started the second period with a minute left on a Lepisto hooking call and got a couple of shots off which Vehanen handled easily. Good end to end start to the period with chances for both sides. With 23.56 on the clock Norway took a shock lead with a well taken penalty shot. Olimb was sent clean through and was adjudged to have been hooked on his way through. A weak award but Olimb drew Vehanen to the left and pulled to the right to score. Finland at this point were struggling to break through the stuffy Norwegian defensive line but were helped by a Bonsaksen push on a Finnish forward who was travelling across the crease. 19 seconds later, Granlund sent a cross ice pass to Jarkko Immonen free at the top of the left circle to one time a beaut past Haugen for the equaliser. Norway gave away another penalty on 28.11 with Morten Ask in the box on a slashing call. They were punished 32 seconds later when Mikko Koivu found Tuomo Ruutu in front of goal and he scored at the second attempt for 2-1. Finland were now well on top as Norway looked shell shocked and tired. They got a welcome respite at 32.01 when Salmela sat out 2 minutes for a daft slash behind the net after he had lost the puck. 2 shots on the powerplay were well saved by Vehanen. This gave Norway a bit of a boost but the pressure ended with Martinsen called for boarding at 35.18 and the inevitable happened 20 seconds later. An identical goal to the first one as Granlund again found Immonen free on the left and the shot beat Haugen again. Valivaara went on a holding the stick call as he stopped a Norwegian attack on 36.48 but another silly interference penalty, this time by Hansen at 38.03 negated the advantage. 30 seconds later Komarov passed to Lajunin to score through the five hole with 1.36 left in the period. There was a bit of confusion after this goal as Norway sneaked Hansen out of the box but an eagle eyed official spotted that the goal was scored 4 on 4 so he had to sheepishly sit down again. End of the period 4-1 to Finland and a tired

Norway will struggle to get back into the match.

Per Age Skroder went to the penalty box on an interference call at 46.41 and they must have feared the worst. Aaltonen had a chance when he broke free but could not get the puck past the sprawling Haugen. Finland failed to score on the powerplay after 2 earlier successes. Norway had a powerplay of their own at 49.49 but only managed 1 shot on Vehanen. With just over 9 minutes left Kristiansen was called for boarding on Pesonen. He can consider himself a very lucky man as the hit was late and high and could have earned a major on another day. Pesonen did not look a happy chappy as he went down to the locker room. Finland were happy just to keep the puck but a turn over gave Norway a shorthanded chance which pulled two good saves from Vehanen. With 1.09 left in the game Koivu and Kristiansen went to the box on roughing calls and Norway called time out and pulled Haugen. Norway pressed hard but could not find a way through the Finnish rearguard and the game ended 4-1 to Finland. A comfortable win for Finland as Norway paid the price for their indiscipline but the Finns will have to tighten up if they are to stop Jagr and Plekanec on Friday. One last point on the goal judges. They must have a different way of totting up shots on goal to me as they had the game scored 38-34 to Norway. Not a chance !!

Canada 1-2 Russia

One would have been forgiven for thinking the referees were setting their stall out when Kovalchuk was called for an innocuous shoulder charge on Rick Nash after only 5 seconds. Interference the call.

No real chances on the powerplay. Canada looked good and was showing much more aggression. Clutterbuck especially was lucky to get away with a particularly high challenge. Pieterangelo should have given Canada the lead at 3.43 with a good shot from the right point but Barulin had a clear look at it and saved easily. Both teams were now hitting ferociously but still no calls from the officials. Canada were penalised for a terrible line change at 5.11 and Tereshenko hit the post with what was Russia’s first shot on goal. No further chances on the powerplay but Afinogenov had a great chance when he waltzed round 3 Canadians but shot too close to Bernier. Canada’s turn next with a wraparound chance that brought a good pad save from Barulin. Russia seemed very slow to clear their zone allowing Canada far too many shooting opportunities. Russia again had a great chance with 3.15 left when Radulov tried to find Kovalchuk as the two broke into the Canadian zone. Brent Burns saved the day with a brilliant poke check to stop the puck reaching Kovalchuk. End of the period 0-0 with the shot count given as 17-6 to Canada. This was mostly because Canada were shooting from long range and Russia were taking the puck to the net most of the time. Good even game.

Both teams could have scored right at the beginning of the second period. First Radulov passed cross ice to Kovalchuk who brought a great save out of Bernier. The puck went straightdown ice and Clutterbuck shot from just inside the blue line bringing just as good a save from Barulin. Evander Kane had a great shift 4 minutes into the period and created 2 good chances but no goal. A goal did come on 25.32 and it went to Canada. Russia drove to the Canadian net and Alex Pieterangelo trapped the puck and cleared it down mid ice where he found Spezza and the Canadian first liner raced through to beat Barulin low on the left side for1-0. 20 seconds later Canada discipline let them down again with a nasty slash on Afinogenov by Zajac to give the Russians another powerplay. Zaripov had a great chance when fed by Morozov but Bernier was down quick to block the shot. Giant Artyukhin then sent a chance over the top. Artyukhin then creamed Ladd into the glass, shaking him up considerably. Skinner then took a slash from Kalinin on 29.27. Incident after incident all over the ice. Kovalchuk was caught by a flying stick causing a blood injury. It was called against Tavares who was given a 2 plus 2 penalty and Russia would have a 3 minute advantage when Kalinin returned to the ice. TV definitely showed that it was a Russian stick that caught Kovalchuk and Tavares was very unlucky to pick up the penalty. Another mistake by the officials who were not having the best of games. Ovechkin missed a great opportunity to equalise when he was free on theleft side but fanned on the puck. Methot then had to go to the bench when an Ovechkin shot came up off a stick straight onto the nose of Methot. Thankfully he looked ok minutes later. Canada should have doubled their lead just at the end of the long Russian powerplay but Nash will be disappointed with the effort. Russia had another powerplay with 3.32 left but yet another poor effort hardly troubled Bernier. Frustration then set in and Afenigonev went to the box for a ridiculous high tackle on a Canadian forward. The advantage only lasted 40 seconds when Spezza, for reasons known only to himself, punched Kalinin on the back of the head and sat out 2 minutes for roughing. End of the second period and Canada still 1-0 to the good. Thoroughly deserved at this point and Bykhov has only 20 minutes to save his job as coach.

Into the third and Russia need to wake up or they are going home. Nikulin found himself free at 18.34 and his howitzer pinged the crossbar and a post before bouncing out. Russia asked for a review and it took the referees over 6 minutes to call no goal. I thought it had bounced behind the line off the crossbar but to be fair to the officials, it was probably too inconclusive to give a goal.

Russia did themselves no favours, taking two penalties in a row to put themselves behind the eight ball for 4 minutes. First a Yemelin cross check then a crazy interference by Artyukhin gave Canada the advantage. Or so it should have been. With 17 seconds left on the Artyukhin penalty, Kaigorodov scored the goal of the tournament. Picking a loose puck on his own blue line, he set off on a skate which was probably to use up the rest of the penalty. He skated past one, then two, then three Canadians and found himself in front of Bernier. A cool finish low down left and Russia were level.

Worse was to come for Canada on 52.19. Radulov took a pass off Kalinin and from behind the net, found Kovalchuk who scored with a sweet shot past Barulin. Canada huffed and puffed but Russia were now the stronger and despite pulling Bernier for the last minute, they could not find the way past Barulin and it was Russia who went through to the semi final.

Tough on Canada, who had controlled a good portion of the game, but both Russian goals were out of the top drawer.

Semi finals...

Four games left in the 2011 World Championships. Friday sees Czech Republic take on Sweden in the afternoon semi final. Both teams have had today off and should be fresh for their encounter. I cannot see anybody stopping the Czech team at the moment. Jagr and Plekanec are world class and should be too good for Sweden.

Prediction Czech Republic 4 Sweden 2

Finland will be glad of the extra 5 hours rest when they play Russia in the evening semi final. Finland showed some of their form in the third period against Norway but will need to show it for 60 minutes to beat Russia. We saw the real Russia for the final 20 minutes tonight against Canada and they too will know they will need to be at their best to go through. My heart says Finland but my head says:

Finland 1 Russia 3

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World Championships 2011 - Quarter Finals - Day 2


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