Canada and Finland are meeting in Moscow to decide the 2016 IIHF World Hockey Championship. Canada enters with a tournament record of 8-0-0-1 with their only loss coming to Finland who is 9-0-0-0. Finland defeated Canada 4-0 on the final day of the group stage to hand Canada their sole loss. Canada beat the United States 4-3 yesterday to get into the Gold Medal Game, while Finland beat the host Russians 3-1 to get here.
These teams last met in a championship game at the 2007 tournament, which was also in Moscow. Canada beat Finland 4-2 that year off of two goals from Rick Nash. Canada has won this tournament 25 times already, while Finland is going for their 3rd championship today. Finland has won the 2016 World Jrs, 2016 U18 Championships, and has the chance to complete the trio today.
It should be a battle of the goaltenders today as they both have starred in this tournament as Cam Talbot (Edmonton Oilers) starts in goal for Canada, carrying in a 1.43 GAA with a .934 sv%. Meanwhile, Finland will counter with Mikko Koskinen who's been even better with a 1.14 GAA and a .941 sv%.
Both teams would start off well, with Canada dictating the first few minutes of play before Finland bounced back with a few opportunities of their own. Just over halfway through the period, Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) would fly all the from the right of Talbot down the ice, then pass the puck off to Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche) inside the Finnish zone. The puck would almost immediately find its way back to McDavid who would cut in front of a fallen Koskinen and lift the puck into the top corner. Canada gets the 1-0 lead halfway through the first.
At one point of the period Canada had a 9-2 advantage in shots and had been outplaying Finland thus far. Shortly after the goal, Boone Jenner (Columbus Blue Jackets) would take an interference call and send Finland to the power play. Finland would generate some offense but nothing major as the penalty kill did its job for Canada.
Finland's best chance of the period would come a minute later when Patrik Laine would get in alone on a broken play, but Talbot used his left pad to kick out the shot from in close. The period came to a close with some rough stuff not often seen in international hockey as Brad Marchand (Boston Bruins) and Leo Komarov (Toronto Maple Leafs) would take matching roughing penalties. The opening period ends with Canada ahead 1-0 on the scoreboard, and ahead 10-7 on the shot clock.
The second period has been arguably Finland's best in the tournament thus far have excelled in pulling away in games during the second period. That includes the three goal second period against Canada in the round robin.
Much like the opening period, the second period began with Canada holding the majority of the play and effectively shutting down Finland any time they had the puck. Both teams had a few chances to score, but no Grade A chances. The period was quite entertaining as the play often ran for minutes without a stoppage as both teams would go end to end.
The first call of the period would come with six minutes left as Leo Komarov would make his second trip of the game to the penalty box and send Canada to the powerplay. Finland was the least penalized team in the tournament so Canada would have the chance to test a Finnish penalty kill that hasn't seen a lot of action. The Finnish penalty kill would hold and the game would get back to even strength without much being generated by Canada.
Finland would get a powerplay opportunity of their own as Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg Jets) would be called for a questionable slash on Koskinen's glove. Canada would get the best chance early on Finland's powerplay as Boone Jenner would get a breakaway but a combination of poke checking and defensive backchecking would give Jenner no real chance to shoot. Jarno Koskiranta would get set up for a one timer right on the top of the crease but Talbot would slide across and deny him to preserve the 1-0 lead.
The second period closes with Canada keeping Finland off the scoreboard and dominating the shot clock 13-4. Canada still leads 1-0 and has outshot Finland 23-11.
Canada enters the third period just twenty minutes away from repeating as world champions, but they'd have to hold off a very strong Finland team to get the win.
Early in the period Mark Stone (Ottawa Senators) would be called for hooking Sebastian Aho, however Aho would be called for a diving penalty to neutralize the possibility of a Finnish powerplay. Definitely wasn't as bad as the Lebron James flop yesterday but still was a noticeable dive haha.
Canada would play its best defense by using its offense to keep hemming Finland back in their own end of the ice. Canada would get some chances in the Finnish zone but for the most part Canada looked inherently set on defending their 1-0 lead.
Finland would pull Koskinen with a minute left and create a nail-biting finish to the game. Finland for the most part would keep the puck in the Canadian zone despite many attempts by Canada to clear. However, Finland would only generate a couple chances that Talbot managed to keep out. Morgan Reilly (Toronto Maple Leafs) would send the puck into the Canadian bench with 8.1 seconds to go, setting up a faceoff to the left of Talbot. The draw would end up as a scramble before Brad Marchand (Boston Bruins) would get the puck to Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche) who would hit the empty net with 0.9 seconds to go and start the party for Canada, ahead 2-0 now.
The fun would start a little prematurely as the Canadian players streamed off the bench and celebrated their championship, however they'd have to pick up the gloves, sticks, and helmets as one final faceoff had to be completed. This time the clock would strike 0.0 and Canada officially became the 2016 World Champions!!!
The players would celebrate for a second time as a dejected Finland team looked on, suffering their first loss of the tournament. And out in the middle of the celebrating Canadians, is Brad Treliving who helped arrange this championship team (hoping he does the same here too!).
Mikko Koskinen and GWG goal scorer Connor McDavid got player of the game honors for their respective teams. Patrik Laine would get the MVP of the tournament and he truly showcased in the tournament how strong he'll be for his NHL future.
Russian President Vladimir Putin would make a short speech to congratulate Canada, Finland, and bronze medal winning Russia, also extending his gratitude to Canada for sharing hockey with the world.
Both teams would receive their medals, and then the Canadian anthem would be sung as is tradition in international hockey with Canada sitting on top of the hockey world.
Canadian captain Corey Perry would hoist the championship trophy as Team Canada would be drowned in golden confetti and Canada is back to back champions at the World Hockey Championship. Corey Perry joined the triple gold club with today's win, only the 27th player in history.
Next year's tournament will be hosted by Germany and France, but first we have the World Cup this fall in Toronto. Once again, Canada is 2016 IIHF World Hockey Champions!!!