MALMÖ – Finland's first win over Canada in 12 years takes it to the gold-medal game against Sweden. It was the most lop-sided in U20 history for the Finns vs. Canada.
Captain Teuvo Teräväinen led the way with two goals and an assist.
"It's a dream final for us – Finland and Sweden," said Henri Ikonen. "It's a great rivalry. Young players like ourselves can't imagine a better situation than that. Hopefully I can sleep well tonight."
Canada will now face Russia for the bronze for the second straight year.
"The guys are down right now, but we'll be ready for tomorrow," vowed defenceman Griffin Reinhart. "We're not doing it just for ourselves but for our country and all the fans who get up tomorrow and watch."
This marks the fifth straight year Canada hasn't won gold. "I don't think that's anything against Canada," Reinhart continued. "It shows how much better other countries are getting, too. It's a tough tournament to win."
The difference was skating, passing, and creative play. Canada seemed not to be able to make or take a pass while the Finns created several fine scoring chances through excellent puck movement.
The largely pro-Canadian crowd of 11,544 did its part to try to inspire their favourite players, but it just wasn't there tonight. Finland, though, was the very epitome of determination.
Although Canada had the puck most of the scoreless first period, it didn’t generate many good scoring chances as the Finns collapsed in their own end to protect goalie Juuse Saros and kept Canada to the outside.
And, Finland generated the only power play of the period when Matt Dumba tripped Aleksi Mustonen behind the Canadian goal.
The Finns got the opening goal at 4:19 of the second on a strange play and fortuitous bounce. Julius Honka fired the puck along the boards from centre ice, but deep in the Canadian end it hit a rut and came right through the Canadian slot. Defenceman Matt Dumba had already turned to play the puck behind the net and goalie Zachary Fucale also thought it would go behind the net. Neither saw the weird bounce, but Joni Nikko did. He took his time and wired it in the open side.
Less than two minutes later, the Finns stunned the pro-Canadian crowd by connecting on a power play. This time Teräväinen’s quick shot from the side boards was tipped in front by Saku Mäenalanen. Fucale made the save, but the rebound came out to Arturri Lehkonen, and he snapped it in for a 2-0 Finland lead.
Did the Finns know about that quirk in the boards through experience at Malmö Arena? Did Canada not know because it had yet to play at the arena?
Canada got one goal back at 11:24 after a giveaway by Ville Pokka. Anthony Mantha picked off the pass up the middle and got the puck to Curtis Lazar, who drove around the goal and tried to stuff the puck in. Saros made the save but Jonathan Drouin had a wide open goal to make it 2-1.
Canada then had a meltdown of sorts and took two minors and two misconducts to take away any momentum it might have gained. Fucale made a brilliant save on a nice passing play, but moments later Rasmus Ristolainen beat him to the short side over the shoulder to make it 3-1.
Finland showed far more creativity with the puck and were effective in their own end keeping the Canadians at bay. The score through 40 minutes well reflected the skills of the two teams.
Teräväinen finished the scoring with a penalty-shot goal at 16:48 and another into the empty net in the final minute.