International Ice Hockey Federation

Finns win on home ice

Finns win on home ice

Last tournaments before World Juniors

Published 10.11.2015 12:57 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Finns win on home ice
Sweden's Axel Holmstrom faces-off against Finland's Aleksi Saarela. Photo: Richard Wolowicz / HHOF-IIHF Images
Last week’s international break was the chance to play the last tournaments prior to the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland.

Sixteen U20 national teams competed in four tournaments and players had the chance to recommend themselves for a call to the team when the World Juniors will be played in December.

Finland hosted the major Four Nations Tournament in Tampere and Hameenlinna and was unbeaten on home ice seven weeks before the World Juniors in Helsinki.

Like in the senior team’s Karjala Tournament it was Finland and Sweden, who battled for bragging right among the four big European hockey powers. Finland entered the last game with a perfect streak after wins over the Czech Republic (3-2) and Russia (2-0) while Sweden had four points after an overtime loss against Russia (3-2) and a 6-0 blanking of the Czechs.

In a disciplined final encounter Finland capitalized on its first power play of the game with a goal from Jesse Puljujarvi midway through the second frame. Patrik Laine scored two third-period goals for Finland while Jens Looke replied for Sweden. But Finland defended the lead and Kasper Bjorkqvist scored an empty netter for the 4-1 score. Veini Vehvilainen kept Finland in the game with 26 saves.

It was an important test for Jukka Jalonen’s team in the last tournament before the World Juniors on home ice in Helsinki and he must have been pleased with what he saw. His team conceded only three goals in as many games and six different forwards scored in the three games including Laine, Bjorkqvist and Puljujarvi with two goals each.

Sweden topped the scoring stats with Robin Kovacs (3+1), Axel Holmstrom (2+2) and Oskar Lindblom (1+2).

Finland was also successful in goaltending with Vehvilainen’s 94.0% save percentage in two games while Emil Larmi had a 20-save shutout in his game against Russia.

Sweden had to settle for seconds place while the Czech Republic moved up to third place after edging Russia 3-2 on the last day.

Also Slovakia won its tournament on home ice with a perfect streak. In Poprad the Slovaks started with two tight wins. Matej Palocko scored the game-winning goal with 5:31 left in regulation time in a 2-1 comeback win against Germany. Against Switzerland the Slovaks even game back from a 2-0 deficit after 33 minutes. The Slovaks decided the game with two goals in the ninth minute of the final frame from Peter Galis and Lukas Hrusik.

The two wins already made the Slovaks tournament winners but they nevertheless added a 5-2 victory against Norway on the last day while Germany claimed second place after a 2-1 shootout win against Switzerland, which had to settle for third place ahead of winless Norway. Slovakia’s Palocko shared top scoring honours with 2+1 points with Germany’s Maximilian Kammerer.

Belarus, which after a long absence will compete in the World Juniors, hosted the Grodno Cup in Grodno with top-division rival Denmark and Division I teams Latvia and Austria. First prize went to Latvia, which earned the tournament win with three victories against Austria (3-1), Denmark (5-1) and Belarus (5-2).

Belarus had some of the top scorers with Danila Karaban (2+4), Artemi Chernikov (2+3) and Vyacheslav Gretski (3+1) but didn’t achieve a better result than third place after losing to Latvia and Denmark, which earned a second-place finish. For Austria the tournament ended with zero points.

Four Nations Tournament in Tampere and Hameenlinna, Finland
6 Nov.    Sweden  -  Russia     2-3 OT
6 Nov.   Finland  -  Czech Rep.   3-2
7 Nov.   Finland  -  Russia   2-0
7 Nov.   Czech Rep.  -  Sweden   0-6
8 Nov.   Russia  -  Czech Rep.   2-3
8 Nov.   Finland  -  Sweden   4-1
Standings: 1. Finland 9, 2. Sweden 4, 3. Czech Rep. 3, 4. Russia 2
Four Nations Tournament in Poprad, Slovakia    
5 Nov.   Norway  -  Switzerland   1-2 SO
5 Nov.   Slovakia  -  Germany   2-1
6 Nov.   Germany  -  Norway   4-3
6 Nov.   Slovakia  -  Switzerland   3-2
7 Nov.   Switzerland  -  Germany   1-2 SO
7 Nov.   Slovakia  -  Norway   5-2
Standings: 1. Slovakia 9, 2. Germany 5, 3. Switzerland 3, 4. Norway 1
Grodno Cup in Grodno, Belarus        
5 Nov.   Latvia  -  Austria   3-1
5 Nov.   Belarus  -  Denmark   3-4
6 Nov.   Denmark  -  Latvia   1-5
6 Nov.   Austria  -  Belarus   1-6
7 Nov.   Austria  -  Denmark   1-2
7 Nov.   Belarus  -  Latvia   2-5
Standings: 1. Latvia 9, 2. Denmark 6, 3. Belarus 3, 4. Austria 0
Four Nations Tournament in Vaujany, France    
5 Nov.   Hungary  -  Italy   2-1
5 Nov.   France  -  Slovenia   6-1
6 Nov.   Italy  -  Slovenia   2-3
6 Nov.   Hungary  -  France   2-3 OT
7 Nov.   Hungary  -  Slovenia   3-1
7 Nov.   France  -  Italy   5-1
Standings: 1. France 8, 2. Hungary 7, 3. Slovenia 3, 4. Italy 0


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