World Championships 2011 - The final day

Monday, 16th May 2011

World Championships Bronze Medal Game

Czech Republic 7-4 Russia

Who said nobody wants a bronze medal match. The two East European rivals served up an absolute hockey fest in the Orange arena on Sunday afternoon. This was old fashioned hockey. Run and gun offence, no defence, goalies hung out to dry. Brilliant to watch.

Surprising really that it took 3.33 for the first goal. Czech republic broke out of defence and Atyushov was the only Russian defenceman back where he should be. Plekanec was free and Cervenka made the pass only for the puck to deflect of a great poke check by Atyushov. The unfortunate Tyutin was driving back to join in the defence and he carried the puck into the net past Barulin. Goal credited to Cervenka, 1-0 Czech Republic. Chances at either end for the next five and a half minutes before we had three goals in 57 seconds. Russia equalised with a great strike by Kovalchuk, who sent the puck between Caslava’s legs and under Pavalec’s blocker. 2-1 Russia 15 seconds later with a superb shot from the right circle by Kulikov after a pass by Radulov. Stunned by this, the Czechs made it 2-2 after a beautiful passing move. Prucha to Marek, Marek to Rolinek who moved it for the trailing Prucha in the centre and his high shot rattled past the goalie. A bit of a respite then as both teams settled down but the scoring was not finished. With 1.07 left in the period Kovalchuk picked up a loose puck after Radulov forced a save from Pavelec and he roofed the shot over the still sprawling goalie. End of the period and time to take a breath 3-2 Russia.

There was no let up in the second but you can add a bit of afters and handbags to the mix along with the first penalties of the match. Czech Republic tied the game at 22.11 when a giveaway on the Russian blueline allowed Prucha to dash through and score from centre. Afonigonev had a great chance on 25.35 when he backhanded the puck through his legs towards goal but the defence reacted quickest. 4-3 Czech Republic on 30.45. A great shot by Aryukhin was saved by Pavelec, the Czechs cleared the zone through Pruch down centre ice. Atyushov was too high up the ice and Cervenka beat him to thepuck and scored past Barulin after deking him out of his pads to shoot into the empty net from the right. This all came after a superb shift by Russia with Artyukhin being denied three times by Barulin. We then had an enforced break as 100kg Karel Rachunek blasted the 116kg monster Artyukhin into the plexi, shattering the glass and delaying the game. Artyukhin just shook the glass bits out of his hair and skated to the bench none the worse for wear. Then the hat trick goal for Cervenka. Plekanec wound up for a slapshot from the blue line, but fooled everybody by passing to Cervenka, free by the post to re direct the puck into the net. Youngster Tarasenko scored for Russia with just less than 3 minutes left in the period to make the score 5-4 Czech Republic. The shot was in and out so quickly it took a review to confirm the goal.There was still time for the first penalty of the game when Kalinin took a hooking penalty and then a Rachunek crosscheck annoyed Afinogenov so much he started a fight with Elias. All three sat out 2 minutes.

The Czechs got the insurance goal on 46.30. Voracek crossed the blue line and sent the puck to Rolinek who dropped the puck to the trailing Marek score easily. Russia pulled Barulin with just over 2 minutes left and Plekanec scored in the empty net after a superb pass from Jagr. Final score 7-4 to the Czech Republic and a bronze to go with last year’s gold. Russia have now lost their last 3 competitive meetings with the Czech Republic.

Let’s hope the gold medal game is just as exciting.

Gold Medal Game

Sweden 1-6 Finland

Finland started the stronger and their patient build up was creating the better chances. Finland play a waiting game, allowing the opposition plenty of territory but close the lanes down with solid defensive play. Berglund on the other hand, was all over the ice for Sweden, controlling most plays and very aggressive on the forecheck at every opportunity. Best chance of the first half of the period fell to Janne Niskalle who had a good shot from the blue line well held by Fasth. With 13 minutes on the clock, Mikko Koivu nearly picked off the puck in the Swedish zone but the defence recovered just in time and the chance was gone. 7.20 left and Aaltonen should have troubled the goalie as he broke down the right wing but his shot went behind the goal. Silfverberg then played the puck across the crease and Vehanen had to be smart to smother the biscuit. Both goalies like jumping on the puck at every opportunity. It is almost as if they prefer to take their chances with the face off rather than the rebound. Sweden were ending the period the stronger but were put on the back foot when they took the only penalty of the stanza at 17.52 when Larsson went to the box on an interference call. Finland again took the patient route on the powerplay and set up a plethora of chances along the blue line that never really troubled the goalie. The pp ended with Tuomo Ruutu shooting straight at Fasth with the only shot that found its way through the defence. End of the first period and 0-0 and a close shot count of 13-12 in Finland’s favour, reflecting a close, technical period of hockey.

Second period

Sweden came out strongest and had two great chances in the first couple of minutes. Rundbland was unlucky with a strong shot from the left circle and then Vehanen just managed to kick the puck away from a Tedenby shot. Berglund was still running the Swedish game, great forechecking and general all round physicality . On 3.34 a long lazy skate by Ekman Larsson ended with a shot straight to Vehanen then Fasth got lucky at the other end as a high bobbling puck landed right in front of him. Finland went on the powerplay at 24.41 when Kruger sat out a slashing penalty. Finland were back in the game and on 26.42 Granlund got off a great shot after a face off win that bounced off Fasth and Pesonen had two chances to score. Sweden then scored the opening goal as Paajarvi broke down the left and wristed a belter from just over the blue line that beat Vehanen high to his left. Methinks he would like that one back. 27.40 on the clock and Sweden are in front 1-0. With just less than half an hour gone Kapanen went to the box on a hooking call and a good Swedish powerplay pinned the Finns back in their own zone. Pesonen had a huge chance as the powerplay ended but the shot was poor. Finland were taking penalties, harming the cause and Nokelainen went to the box at 34.25 on a boarding call. A poor challenge from him that might have been more costly. 2.52 to go in the period and Sweden should have gone further ahead as a terrible line change gave them a two on one break but they failed to get the shot off.

With 30 seconds left Petrasek was penalised for hooking and 23 seconds later the game was tied. Great work deep in the corner by Koivu got the puck to the blue line for Jarkko Immonen to blast a shot through traffic and in to the net. End of the period and the teams are still locked together. 1-1

Third period

Finland came out full of confidence and after David Petrasek gave the puck up on his own blue line, Nokelainen stole in and scored past Fasth on the short side. Less than a minute later and Finland were in blue heaven. Brilliant work in the corner by Komarov got the puck to Aaltonen who fed Niko Kapanen out in front and he gave Finland a 3-1 lead. Were they about to end 16 years of waiting to add to their only championship win ? Yes they were. Janne Pessonen made it 4 when he got to a puck in the corner and Pyorala sent the blue half of the crowd wild with a shot that Fasth would have normally saved. Pihlstrom made it 6-1 with a superb shot that beat Fasth glove side and the victory was complete. An outstanding third period performance. Finland completely outworked Sweden from about the 10 minute mark and the bridesmaids are finally brides...

Overall a great tournament and a well deserved victory for Finland. What odds would you get on them repeating next year as the tournament is held in Sweden and Finland. Goal of the tournament has to be Granlunds scoop into the net against Russia.

Hope you have enjoyed the reports; see you at next year’s tournament

Jim “Tambo” Piper

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World Championships 2011 - The final day

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