Finland clinch shock World Championships title over Canada

The Finns defeated Canada for the first time in a Worlds final to win their first crown in eight years.

By ZK Goh

Finland are men's ice hockey world champions for a third time after beating Canada 3–1 in the final in Bratislava.

It was déjà vu of sorts for the Finns, who last clinched the World Championships title in 2011 in the same arena in the Slovakian capital when they beat rivals Sweden 6–1.

Captain and PyeongChang 2018 Olympian Marko Anttila led from the front for Finland this time, scoring twice to help his team come from behind to win.

The triumph capped a remarkable run for 'the Lions', who also saw off the more-favoured Sweden and Russia en route to the trophy.

Finland's players celebrate after winning the World Championship. (REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko)

Comeback win

Finland captain Marko Anttila scores the go-ahead goal in the third period against Canada in the IIHF World Championships final. (REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko)

Canada took the lead halfway through the first period when defenceman Shea Theodore of the Vegas Golden Knights flicked the puck past an opposing defender before sniping it past Kevin Lankinen in the Finnish goal, and it seemed a missed penalty shot by the Finns earlier would come back to haunt them.

But captain Anttila had other ideas, scoring from in close early into a second-period powerplay after Theodore had been sent to the penalty box for tripping.

Then, in the third period, some smart play saw Veli-Matti Savinainen take advantage of a Canadian defender losing his stick to feed Anttila at the front of the net, and the latter made no mistake to beat Matt Murray in goal.

And with four minutes left, Harri Pesonen beat Murray on the near side, forcing Canada to pull their goaltender in search of a game-changing goal that never came.

Capturing attention

Finland's road to the gold medal game captured the attention of many fans, given the outsiders — on paper at least — named only two men with NHL game-time this season to their roster.

The bulk of the team played together at PyeongChang 2018 where they finished sixth, and appear to have gelled nicely at this tournament.

They finished only behind final opponents Canada in Group A, even beating the Maple Leaf in pool play, before seeing off powerhouses Sweden (in overtime) and Russia in the playoffs. Anttila scored the only goal against the Russians with less than 10 minutes left to play in the final period.

Among those who were caught up in the Lions' superb run to the title was Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas, who used a press conference at the Monaco Grand Prix to enquire about how his country were doing in the tournament.

After suffering the opening-day loss to Finland, Canada went an unbeaten 6–0–0 in pool play.

But they were on the verge of elimination by Switzerland in the last eight when, in the final second of the third period, a shot from blue-liner Damon Severson somehow trickled over the goal line to send the teams into overtime, where Mark Stone delivered the knockout blow.

Their semi-final match-up, against the Czech Republic, was far more straightforward, as they saw off their opponents 5–1.

That set up a replay of the tournament's first game in the final, and once again Finland held their own, securing a famous victory.

Russia won bronze after defeating the Czechs in a penalty shot shoot-out.


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