Now the two are poised to separate a 1-1 tie in recent gold-medal clashes, with Finland taking the verdict in Bratislava in 2019 before Canada got an overtime win in Riga in 2021. Earlier on Sunday, Czechia goes up against the USA hoping to win its first hardware since 2013 and end its longest ever World Championship medal drought.
Finland 4 USA 3 (1-1, 2-1, 1-1)
Team USA, reduced to just four fit defensemen when Jayson Megna returned home for personal reasons, gave Finland a fright at the start of Saturday’s semi-final in Tampere. A second-minute goal from Nate Schmidt, firing in a point shot as Adam Gaudette screened Juho Olkinuora, stunned the home crowd in Tampere.
Jukka Jalonen’s team, though, is no stranger to battling back into games. Miro Heiskanen tied the scores late in the opening frame with another of his incisive rushes into enemy territory and early in the second, Sakari Manninen struck on the power play to put the home team in front.
The job still wasn’t done, though. Sean Farrell, the American college kid who starred at the Olympics, tied it up shortly after to keep the game on a knife edge.
However, it would turn out to be a big day for Heiskanen, who assisted on further Finnish goals for Sami Vatanen and Joel Armia. That built a 4-2 lead and proved – just – enough to win it. In the closing minutes, the Americans withdrew goalie Jeremy Swayman and Gaudette made it a one-goal game. But the Leijonat was not about to have this one snatched from it claws.
Victory puts Finland into its fourth successive final, including the Beijing Olympics. However, it’s the first time in nine championships as host nation that the Finns have secured a medal. Previously, the best result on home ice was a defeat in the bronze-medal game. Tomorrow, the vocal Tampere crowd is guaranteed to see its heroes collect some hardware – but the color remains to be seen.
Canada 6 Czechia 1 (1-1, 3-0, 2-0)
Defending champion Canada powered into the final on the back of a dominant second period against the Czechs.
The opening frame was tough for the Canadians, who took eight minutes in penalties and gave up a power play goal to David Krejci in the eighth minute. But in 5-on-5 play, the dangerous Czech first line struggled to gain traction.
Late in the first period Dylan Cozens tied it up, giving Canada a big lift going into the middle frame. And with Czechia falling into penalty trouble of its own, three unanswered goals put the game beyond reach. Adam Lowry, Kent Johnson and Matt Barzal had Canada in complete control.
Two days earlier, a three-goal lead wasn’t enough for Sweden going into the final session of its quarter-final. On that occasion, Canada pulled off the big fightback but there was never any danger that Claude Julien’s team would fall victim to its own tactics. In the third, Cole Sillinger extended the lead before Cozens’ second of the game secured a convincing win.