POPRAD, SLOVAKIA - APRIL 18: Finland's Santeri Virtanen #22 celebrates after scoring a shorthanded goal against Canada to make it 4-1 for Finland during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Andrea Cardin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Early goals in each period undo Canada
Finland defeated Canada 6-3 this afternoon in Poprad, giving it first place in Group A and a quarter-finals date with the fourth-place team from Group B.
Kristian Vesalainen led the way with three goals for the Finns.
Canada managed just 20 shots to Finland's 34 and looked like the slower team from the get-go.
"The second and third periods especially were good for us," said Finnish defenceman Miro Heiskanen. "It was a good win for us. We played well on defence and limited their chances."
Canada will now travel to Spisska Nova Ves on Thursday to meet the third-place team in Group B, quite likely Sweden.
Finland scored goals early in each period to gain momentum and unnerve the Canadians.
"It's a terrible feeling, and we don't want this to happen again," Matthew Strome said. "They got all the momentum in the second, and we couldn't get it back.
"We have to give them some credit," Maxime Comtois added. "They're a fast team, highly skilled. We weren't disciplined, and they scored on the power play."
It was a peculiar and strange start to the game, especially for Canada. Just 13 seconds after the faceoff, Jaret Anderson-Dolan took a needless penslty for runnung into goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
The Finns took advantage immediately, scoring at the 56-second mark. Kristian Vesalainen's shot dribbled through the pads of Ian Scott and over the goal line.
On the same play, Jared McIsaac took a slashing penalty, leaving Canada short-handed for almost the entire first three minutes of the game.
But after killing off that second penalty, Canada tied the score. Joshua Brook made a nice pinch along the boards to intercept a puck and fired a great pass to Jack Studnicka who fired a quick shot past Luukkonen as he was falling.
Finland started the second as it had the first, scoring early and putting Canada on its heels. This time it was Vesalainen jumping on a rebound off an Urho Vaakanainen shot at 0:30.
Unlike the first, though, Finland continued to control play. In fact, Canada looked decidedly tired and managed only four shots all period. The Finns made it 3-1 on a great shot by Heiskanen over Scott's glove.
"It was a really good pass from Jesse [Ylonen], and I saw a little space so shot there. Fortunately, it went in."
Then, at 12:37, Suomi added a fourth goal. Santeri Virtanen made a nice steal of the puck just inside his own blue line and flew the length of the ice, making a smooth deke and backhanding the puck past the outstretched glove of Scott.
Canada got one back late when Jett Woo drilled a shot top shelf over Luukkonen's shoulder at 18:38, but it was an uphill climb still remaining.
As with the first and second, though, Finland struck early in the third. This time the goal came at 1:24 as Kasperi Kotkaniemi fed Teemu Engberg for a great re-direct in front. At that point, coach Darren Rumble deicded a shakeup was needed and pulled Scott in favour of Jake McGrath.
Mackenzie Entwistle made it 5-3 at 11:18 on the power play when his low shot snuck under Luukkonen. That's as close as they got. Vesalainen added a final goal into the empty net to finish the scoring.