World Juniors

Finns Beat Slovaks, Earn Semifinal Date With Sweden

Panthers prospect Joonas Donskoi gives Finns 7-4 lead with power play goal.

Monday, 01.2.2012 / 9:48 PM ET / World Juniors
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Finns Beat Slovaks, Earn Semifinal Date With Sweden
Those that forget history are doomed to repeat it.

But those that dwell on it will miss the present.

After blowing a two-goal lead to Russia late in the third period of the World Junior Championship quarterfinal a year ago, Finland dispatched Slovakia 8-4 Monday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome earn themselves a date with Sweden in Tuesday's semifinal.

"This is a new year," captain Mikael Granlund said. "That's last year. We need to be ready for this tournament. We just tried to do things even better than last time."

They did.

Exploding for a four-goal second period, Finland built up a lead Slovakia couldn't overcome. Last year, Finland took a 3-1 lead into the third period against Russia – a game it lost 4-3 in overtime.

Granlund led the charge, scoring once and adding three assists, including a pair of markers off the stick of his brother, Marcus.

"The first period was tough for us," Mikael said. "When we scored those four goals, it became a more easy game. If we play how we can and that style we want to play, it's pretty hard to play against us."

Mikael's power-play marker pulled Finland ahead 5:42 into the period, before his cross-ice feed and subsequent one-timer from brother Markus 1:04 later gave Finland a 4-2 edge.

Mikael didn't stop there. Undressing defenseman Martin Marincin at the hashmarks, the elder Granlund was met by a poke-check from Slovakia starter Juraj Simboch. The puck went directly to Markus, who wired home his second for a Finnish three-goal edge. The goal spelled the end of Simboch in net.

Despite a new goaltender, the wave kept coming from Finland. After beating Matej Bene wide, 16-year-old Aleksander Barkov tucked the puck around Dominik Riecicky and into the back of the net at 11:45 to give Finland a 6-2 edge. Barkov's goal - his first of the tournament -- makes him the youngest player to ever score at the World Juniors, eclipsing Sidney Crosby's mark by three weeks.

Slovakia managed to get just one of those goals back. Marincin's shot from the point was deflected by Matus Chovan and onto the stick of Richard Mraz, who put it into a virtually-empty net at 13:36.

The Slovaks, who scored four goals in the third period against Switzerland in a come-from-behind-victory to put them in the quarterfinal, pulled to within 6-4 at 4:59. Able to walk in off the point, Martin Daloga beat Sami Aittokallio with a shot that went underneath the Finnish goalie's arm.

But when Matus Chovan was given a 5-minute major and a game misconduct with 8:41 remaining, it all but spelled the end of a second Slovakia comeback.

"It might be two minutes," said Tomas Jurco, who helped orchestrate Slovakia's comeback against the Swiss. "I'm not saying it was bad, but five minutes in the time of the game like that … it was kind of hard. I don't want to comment on the referee, it was his job but for us it was really huge and kind of slowed us done. I think if there wouldn't be a penalty, I think we were slowly coming back and you never know, we might score four goals in four minutes like we did [Saturday night]."

With ample power play time to work with, Finland struck twice.

Joonas Donskoi's shot from the point found the back of the net at 13:22. With a two-man advantage after a Peter Trska cross-checking penalty, Teemu Pulkkanen added his sixth of the tournament 47 seconds later to make it an 8-4 final.

Finland got the jump on Slovakia in the opening period, too.

Joel Armia opened the scoring just 4:29 into the game. Trying to feed a teammate on the other side of the crease, Armia's centering pass hit the stick of Slovak forward Matej Bene and bounced behind Simboch.

Simboch avenged Armia's goal just over a minute later. Darting into the Slovak zone, Armia let go a hard shot that Simboch got a glove on. The play headed up the ice and after a turnover by Finnish blueliner Jani Hakanpaa, Chovan buried a Richard Mraz rebound at 14:24 to make it 1-1.

The tie would hold for just eight seconds. Roope Hamalainen fired a shot that was bobbled by Simboch. Trying to clear the puck, a pair of Slovak defenders instead took out their goaltender, leaving the puck and an empty net for Hamalainen.

Slovakia would tie the game at 2-2 before the period was out. On the power play, Marek Tvrdon one-timed a Milos Bubela offering from the high slot that beat Aittokallio glove side with just 29.6 seconds remaining in the first.

Finland's attention will quickly turn to rival Sweden with a berth in the gold medal game on the line.

"Every game against Sweden is a big game, especially tomorrow," Pulkkanen said. "It's going to be a big game. "It's going to be a nice day tomorrow. I have been waiting for it."

Author: Aaron Vickers | Correspondent




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
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