Coming off the last game when the US was shutout by Sweden, their third game of the 2016 WJC was quite a different story. A big first period gave them a 6-0 lead and they kept the pressure on for a 10-1 victory. We enjoyed the game, and Finns like Americans and Team USA, so most of the crowd was for us, but USA Hockey needs to get more fans traveling for these games as I doubt we had even 100 US-born fans wearing red, white, and blue – and that is including the players families.
Earlier in the day we watched Sweden shutout Denmark. Sweden played a very controlled style and won easily, however it was not a very entertaining game.
We met a couple Finns between games that travel to Anaheim every winter to enjoy some sun and take in Ducks games. Of course Teemu Selanne was their favorite player, which is not hard to understand for any hockey fan, much less a Finn.
In Group B action, the Czechs were down to Belarus, but came back to win 5-3 and Finland was down to Slovakia after one, but came back to win 8-3.
For the final day of round robin action, the US only needs a win versus Denmark to lock up the second spot in Group A. Sweden has clinched first no matter how they do tonight versus Canada. On the Group B side, Russia can clinch first with a win against Slovakia. The Finns and Czechs will fight it out for second and third, unless Russia loses allowing one of them a shot at first. Slovakia is the four seed regardless. That leaves Belarus and Switzerland to the three game relegation round to see who stays with the major hockey nations and who gets sent down for next years tournament.
The top three scorers so far are Finns, but the host team only has a 2-1 record despite scoring the most goals of any team. Whatever the results tonight, it will be a very interesting medal round.
Before the games we headed downtown and visited Helsinki Cathedral to see the interior. Sunday on our walking tour we saw the exterior and learned about 3/4 of Finns belong to the Lutheran church. Both inside and out the scale of the building is impressive, but the structure is not ornate. The interior has some lovely chandeliers, but none of the marble and gilt that one might expect of such a major building. Afterwards, we visited some shops, the open air market, and then went into the old Market Hall where we enjoyed a delicious confection. The only scheduling issue we have found is that we planned to visit the Olympic Stadium, tower, and sports museum adjacent to the Helsinki Ice Hall hockey venue, but we learned that it closed on December 23 for a major renovation project and will not reopen until 2019. Thankfully we checked the night before and altered our plans. On the way from the Market Hall we got off the tram a stop early and walked past what we could see of the stadiums. It is a nice sports complex with at least 4 outdoor fields, 2 with stadiums around them, plus the hockey rink, and an enclosed bubble structure. The renovation project seems to be aimed at getting the Olympic stadium structure back up to international event standards.
New Years Eve will bring 2 more hockey games for us and then down to Senate Square to ring in the New Year.