BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – Finland completed a fairytale world championship after they came from behind to beat favorites Canada 3-1 and clinch their third gold medal in an absorbing final on Sunday.
Ice Hockey World Championships – Final – Canada v Finland – Ondrej Nepela Arena, Bratislava, Slovakia – May 26, 2019 Finland’s players celebrate after winning the World Championship. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
The Finns, who beat the Canadians by the same score in their opening group-stage match, were underdogs in all three knockout stage games but they defied the odds to shock 2018 champions Sweden, Russia and Canada en route to the title.
It was a case of history repeating itself for the battling Finns, who won their previous title at the same venue in 2011.
Canada, who were aiming for a record 27th title, dominated the opening period as Shea Theodor fired them ahead midway through with a brilliant solo effort.
The Vegas Golden Knights defenseman weaved his way through three Finnish players and found the top corner with a superb wrist-shot after Oliwer Kaski had missed a penalty for Finland.
Canada hit the crossbar twice and those misses, coupled with lapses in concentration early in the second and third periods, cost them dearly.
Finland captain Marko Antilla, who scored the winner in the 1-0 semi-final win over Russia, was instrumental again as he leveled two minutes and 35 seconds into the second period when he beat goaltender Matt Muray with a fizzing low shot.
At exactly the same point in the third period, the towering Anttila punished the Canadians again as he popped up in front of goal and swept a fine Veli-Matti Savinainen assist into the roof of the net.
Harri Pesonen sealed Finland’s memorable win in the closing stages and the Canadians failed to create much up front in the dying minutes although they threw men forward in the Ondrej Nepela Arena.
Earlier on Sunday, Russia won the bronze medal with a penalty shootout win over the Czech Republic as the match finished 2-2 after regulation and overtime.
Nikita Gusev and Ilya Kovalchuk netted Russia’s goals in the shootout as the Czechs, who had led 2-1 in regular time after falling behind early on, missed all of their four attempts.
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Toby Davis