Andy Potts Andy Potts
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Jokerit duo Iiro Pakarinen and Hannes Bjorninen were on target as Finland edged past Germany in the World Championship semi-final. The Finns will face Canada, who defeated the USA 4-2 with Justin Danforth among the scorers. Germany plays the Americans in the bronze-medal game in Riga tomorrow afternoon.

Olkinuora guides Finland to the final

Finland 2 Germany 1 (2-0, 0-1, 0-0)

Finland produced another rock solid defensive display to move into the gold medal game. Jukka Jalonen’s team now faces Canada in a repeat of the 2019 final and will look for back-to-back gold for the first time in its history.

Metallurg’s Juho Olkinuora was a wall once again for the Finns, stopping 27 of the 28 shots he faced as Suomi once again rode a one-goal lead all the way to the end.

Surprise package Germany made a bright start to Saturday’s semi-final, but lost its way after allowing two bad goals late in the first period. First, Mathias Niederberger was beaten by a fairly routine shot from Jokerit’s Iiro Pakarinen, then late in the frame Marko Anttila’s long reach helped him force a turnover in the German zone and his pass set up the unguarded Hannes Bjorninen to double the lead.

Jokerit’s Marko Anttila is again captaining Finland and today he was impressed with his team’s decisiveness in front of goal. The Finns scored two goals off just five shots in the first period to tip the balance in a hard-fought game.

“Germany was very good in the first period and, OK, we defended well, but the big thing was that we were very effective in taking our chances,” Anttila said. “Of course, we can still improve our puck possession and those kind of things but we’re happy to win this game and go for one more.”

With a two-goal lead at the first intermission, and Finland famed for its parsimonious play, few anticipated that the Germans could come back into the game. But the second period saw plenty of offensive intent from the outsider, and midway through the session Matthias Plachta showed great technique to smash home a slap shot on the power play and halve the deficit. At the other end, goalie Mathias Niederberger pulled off some big stops, most notably denying Arttu Ruotsalainen on a one-on-one.

And the third showed Finland’s defense at its hard-working best as Germany again dominated the play but failed to add to its solitary goal.

“They came at us really hard in the third period but Juho was really good in the net,” said Jokerit’s summer signing Bjorninen. “We trust him and he made a couple of really good saves.”

“Today it didn’t happen but I’m proud of the guys,” said German D-man Korbinian Holzer, who played last season with Avtomobilist. “The way we battled, the way we finished the game, the way we gave it to Finland. That is one of the best teams in the world, the current champion from the last World Championship, going to the final again, so that’s not a bad team over there.”

Finland now faces Canada for gold in a repeat of the 2019 final, and a group stage game here that ended in a shoot-out win for the Finns.

“It wasn’t our best game, the first one,” added Anttila. “We have to play much, much better. They are going to improve from that game too, so we have to be ready for that.”

Danforth on target as Canada advances

USA 2 Canada 4 (1-1, 0-1, 1-2)

Canada continued its recovery at this year’s World Championship, avenging a 1-5 group stage loss to the Americans and booking a place in Sunday’s gold medal game.

Once again, Andrew Mangiapane was the key man, scoring twice more to move to seven goals in five games since he walked into a team that lost its first three outings of the tournament. Today’s strikes took the game away from team USA after the first period saw Brandon Pirri and Colin Blackwell trade markers.

The Americans got back to 2-3 thanks to Sasha Chmelevski’s third-period goal, but former Vityaz forward Justin Danforth sealed the win with an empty-netter, his first goal of the championship.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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