WJC: Canada Heads to Semis, Finland Out

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MONTREAL, QC.–The quest for gold has ended for Joonas Nättinen and the Finnish squad at the World Junior Hockey Championship, whereas Louis Leblanc and the Canadians are set to roll into a semi-final matchup against the United States on Monday.

Nättinen and Team Finland were eliminated in a heartbreaking quarterfinal against Russia on Sunday night, in which they were up by a score of 3-1 and were backed up by the stellar play of goaltender Joni Ortio, yet fell victim to Yevgeni Kuznetsov’s opportunistic play late in the third period.  The Russian forward scored a goal and an assist to end the third period, as well as the overtime winner.

Nättinen recorded two shots on goal in the loss.  Russia now takes on the Swedes on Monday afternoon in the first semi-final.

Meanwhile, after a shaky start against Switzerland in which they once again allowed the first goal, Team Canada eventually moved on to the next round thanks to a 4-1 victory.  Netminder Benjamin Conz proved to be quite the puzzle until Ryan Johansen finally got through to the back of the net to tie the game with less than five minutes remaining in the opening frame.  Louis Leblanc scored the third goal at the 4:17 mark of the third period after Cody Eakin fed him a pass that he quickly converted on to boost the Canadian lead to two.

Source: iihf.com
“It was a great pass to the slot,” said Leblanc. “We played a few times together in summer camps, so there’s some chemistry between me and him.”

The long-awaited grudgematch against Team USA gets underway Monday night at 7:30 p.m. EST.  Finland does play once more in the tournament, as they face Switzerland to determine fifth and sixth place on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. EST.

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