MONTREAL, QC–Team Canada was unable to give the Russians a taste of their own medicine on Tuesday, attempting to mount a comeback while facing a seemingly impossible deficit of 6-1 but falling just short, 6-5, in semi-final action at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships. If you’ll recall (and I know, I don’t want to either), the Russians had been able to defeat Canada after being down 3-0 in last year’s matchup when the two were competing for the gold medal by scoring five unanswered goals in the third period.
Now Canada faces an unusual set of circumstances, as they will challenge Finland for the bronze medal.
It’s probably just as well, because everyone in Canada knows you don’t “win” a silver medal at any championship, especially pertaining to hockey. Pride will be on the line here for both teams.
Since 1996, Canada has won both bronze medal games they have competed in. Finland, on the other hand, has won twice as many in the same period. The two teams have yet to face each other in a game of this sort since the tournament rules changed some sixteen years ago. Finland finished sixth in last year’s tournament, so this game is already an upgrade for them.
Canada’s Boone Jenner was suspended for his actions in the game against Russia on Tuesday, so his squad will be down a man. Canada has accumulated the most penalty minutes in the tournament while Finland has less than half of their total of 117.
Finland also saw the tides turn against them as their semi-final saw Sweden be ruled the victors of the shootout after being down 2-0 to the Finns.
Players to watch for both teams:
► Mark Stone, Team Canada: Stone is behind only Max Friberg of Sweden for most goals in the tournament with seven in five games.
► Sami Aittokallio, Team Finland: Finland’s netminder has a goals-against average of .944, also second-best at the World Juniors.
►Ryan Strome, Team Canada: Strome has nine points in six games, tied for Canada’s lead. He also has a tournament-best +9 rating.
►Teemu Pulkkinen, Team Finland: For the second year in a row, Pulkkinen has the most goals for his squad, this time with six heading into this game.
►Jonathan Huberdeau, Team Canada: The 2011 Memorial Cup MVP has quietly made his mark on each game, totaling a goal and eight assists, but is also a penalty-minute culprit with 16.
►Mikael Granlund, Team Finland: The elder of the Granlund brothers has eleven points in six games.
Not to leave out Habs’ prospects Brendan Gallagher, who has three goals, three assists in five games, plus Nathan Beaulieu and Michael Bournival, who have tallied an assist each.