BRONZE MEDAL SCORING RECAP
Team Sweden took on Team USA in the bronze medal game on January 5th. In what should have been a relatively even game, Team Sweden uncharacteristically broke down defensively that resulted in a huge scoring gap that they couldn't recover from.
The first period started slow when Team USA opened the scoring halfway through the first frame. Another goal added to their lead by two, but Team Sweden put up a fight and tied the game 2-2 before the end of the period.
Team USA struck again in the second period, scoring two quick goals to give them a 4-2 lead. When Team Sweden scored, the goal was called off and I believe this was the offensive breakdown that resulted in the loss. With a four minute major infraction, after a Team USA player took a stick to the nose and bled all over the ice, Sweden fell deeper into a pit as they closed the period in a 6-2 deficit.
After Team Sweden's offensive breakdown in the middle period, their defense wasn't far behind. With a couple of mistakes by USA, Team Sweden would shrink the gap with one more goal before Team USA would go on to score two more goals in the final period to finalize the score at 8-3 and win the bronze medal.
Team USA skated harder and faster, they made smart plays, and they created a lot of scoring opportunities that helped them to win the bronze. Team Sweden got stuck in a hole and just couldn't get out after the second period. Without William Nylander and Adam Ollas-Mattsson, the Swedes had one less line of offence and defense to fight back against Team USA.
Congratulations to Team USA for the bronze medal!
GOLD MEDAL SCORING RECAP
The gold medal game between Team Finland and Team Russia was the best game this tournament had to offer. It was fast-paced, exciting, and full of great plays.
This was an epic game and, even though Team Canada wasn't involved this year, it was a game that shouldn't have been missed. It was full of action from start to finish with surprises every few minutes.
Team Finland set the tone in this high-scoring, hard-hitting game with a few hits on the mammoth Russian players to let the visitors know that they showed up and would not be intimidated. With a team as menacing as Russia scoring the first goal, it would have been easy for Finland to throw in the towel early, but they did not.
Even though there was no scoring in the middle period, the action was there with a plethora of penalties for both teams. No goals were scored during the man-advantage for either team, but the hits were big and the teams were evenly matched. With a lack of call on a too-many-men infraction on Russia, Finland could have rolled over and gave up. But, again, they did not. They remained focused on the task at hand and fought even harder in the face of adversity.
Barely 30 seconds into the final period, Finland buried a goal to even the score, which breathed new life into the team. Even when Russia got the go-ahead goal a few seconds later, Finland persisted. The Finnish team fought hard and tied the game again. Again, more penalties were handed out and Finland in an epic comeback of international proportions, led the way for the first time during the game after a goal with one second left in the penalty. Just as expected, Russia, the team known for their comebacks throughout this entire tournament, did not disappoint and tied the score with barely 7 seconds left on the clock to force overtime.
With the gold medal looming and two teams that fought hard to earn it, Team Finland proved worthy with a patient wraparound goal after faking out the Russian goalie and the home team took the gold medal. Team Finland won by a score of 3-2 on their home turf.
Russia's biggest strength has always been their size and, this year, their goalie was a brick wall, which added to the drama. Luckily, Finland had a powerhouse of offence that struck at the optimum times and controlled the play through most of the game. Both teams need to be commended on their great play and their sportsmanship. It was a great game and the tournament was highly entertaining, as it always is.
Congratulations to Team Finland for winning gold!