Today the World Juniors moved to Hartwall Arena to complete the competition. The semifinals determine who plays for gold & silver and who plays for bronze.
First up was Finland versus Sweden
Finland chose to start Kaapo Kahkonen in goal, who relieved Veini Vehvilainen in the Quarterfinal versus Canada. Sweden played Linus Soderstrom, the New York Islanders 4th rounder who has had a stellar tournament.
Sweden got out to a 1-0 lead after one on a Rasmus Asplund goal.
In the second period, Finland finally got some contributions from the players on their roster already drafted into the NHL. Mikko Rantanen and Kasperi Kapanen were key to two second period goals that put the Finns up 2-1 after two, each assisting on both. Also helping out was Antti Kalapudas with the game winner, who has come up big with goals in the last two elimination games.
As the game moved to the third period Finland was able to protect their lead with only a few big chances by the Swedes. So after five games of tournament play the Finns finally showed they were capable of playing some defense.
In the second game, Team USA took on the Russians
The Russians surprised by starting Ilya Samsonov in goal after Alexander Georgiev has played most of the games so far.
Team USA had a strong start and Christian Dvorak made it 1-0. Late in the period the US got down two men, but the PK and goalie Alex Nedjelkovic did a great job killing off the two-man advantage.
The second period started out well with the US able to keep a lot of pucks in at the Russian blueline. However, about halfway through the period the Americans seemed to lose their energy. They allowed two goals to Russia, but by the end of the frame they got a late powerplay that would carry over into the third.
The third period followed much the same storyline as the second half of the 2nd period, the US did not look sharp or energetic. The Russians were able to hold their lead for the rest of the game and move on to the gold medal final versus team Finland.
While disappointing to see the US lose, I come to international tournaments to see great hockey, which we have. On the bright side for USA Hockey, they are still playing on the final day of the tournament for a medal. The US owes Sweden a loss for the round robin shutout they took. Hopefully all these can’t miss kids show up with pride and determination to go home with a medal.
The final with Finland versus Russia should be a great game. The Finns suffered their only loss of the round robin to Russia. So both medal games are rematches.
From Australia to Iceland
Away from the rink we had a great day, my wife found her ideal Nordic sweater souvenir, we got a great deal on some T-shirts, and picked up a nice souvenir for a friend.
After that we had a great lunch at the Woolshed, an Australian restaurant in Helsinki near the train station. Steak, prawns, fries, and salad for €10!
Then we hopped the train to the game and were able to sell our extra tickets. I won’t bore you with the saga from August to now, but we got stuck with an extra pair of tickets to four games. In the end we basically broke even by selling 3 games.
Finally, as we sat in the arena we found out that we won the bid for an upgrade on one of our Wednesday flights. Icelandair has a system where they sell the upper class sections by a bid if they have them available, so they make some money and one can still get those seats at a deep discount. So from Sweden to Iceland we will sit in ‘Comfort’ and get 2 seats in a row versus 3, meals, drinks, and a lounge pass for the terminal! Also, they take requests to have their flagship airplane Hekla Aurora be your ride.
It is a short essay request that you can write, which my wife did, and that same flight from Sweden to Iceland will have the Hekla Aurora plane! The exterior is painted to look like the northern lights and that is what we are going to see in Iceland.
So if the US had to lose, at least we had a great day otherwise!