Fleury Steps up in Team Canada’s Defeat of Finland

By Chris McCluskey

Team Finland’s main asset of late has been goaltender
Kari Lehtonen’s ability to steal games. But the story
this evening was a very ill Marc-Andre Fleury coming
on in relief to save an absolutely terrible David
LeNeveu from allowing Lehtonen and the Finns to grab
yet another two points from a team that played
remarkably better than them. It was goaltending that
nearly buried Team Canada tonight but the story
changed when Fleury entered the game with the stomach
flu and wowed the crowd with a magnificent display of
goaltending while Lehtonen was once again left to his
own devices as his teammates could not get one past
the adopted Nova Scotian.

LeNeveu, starting in place of the 2003 top NHL draft
prospect, spoke to us earlier this week about
remaining focused and staying ready in case he was
forced into action. However, whatever preparation the
young Phoenix Coyotes netminder was talking about did
not show as he almost single handedly blew a 4-1 lead
in the second period and letting in three goals on
eleven shots, leaving Team Canada coach Marc Habscheid
with no other option but to put Fleury back in as the
Finns were gaining momentum which could have led to
the Canadians’ demise.

“It’s a disappointing situation for myself, but we got
the win and that’s what’s important”, said LeNeveu
after the game, “Fleury had a great game tonight.”

Great may have been an understatement. Noticably
feeling the effects of his flu, Fleury skated around
the perimeter of the Canadian defensive zone during
stoppages just to fight the nausea. But despite his
handicap, the eighteen year old put on a spellbinding
performance, receiving two standing ovations from the
10 594 strong after making multiple mind boggling
saves. This including the save of the tournament thus
far, sliding across to stone Joni Pitkanen with an
acrobatic pad save while defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo
cleared the rebound.

The amiable Fleury arrived at the post game media
session all smiles expressing his appreciation for the
Halifax fans. “I was a bit ticklish in the legs,” he
said in his sometimes broken English, “It was amazing
to hear all those people cheering for me.”
“It says a lot for a goalie to come in cold like he
did”, added team captain Scottie Upshall, standing to
his right. At this time the 18 year old goaltender’s
adversary, the ultra-competitive Kari Lehtonen, walked
by giving Fleury a pat on the back. This speaks
volumes for Fleury’s play with Lehtonen respecting his
performance and showing a lot of character. Although
he came out second best in this goaltending battle,
Lehtonen was spectacular as well, not giving up one
soft goal. At one point in the first period he threw
his arms up in disgust at his defence for leaving him
alone to face the Canadian onslaught.

Tonight also saw two Canadian scoring aces break out
of their scoring slumps just in time for the
semi-finals beginning with Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s
howitzer from just inside the circle beating Lehtonen
over his shoulder on the glove side. The Medicine Hat
Tigers’ Joffrey Lupul also scored his first two of the
juniors including one of three Canadian power play
goals of the night. His second showed a lot of
patience and perseverance taking a Colaiacovo pass and
putting his own rebound past the Finnish netminder.

Swiss referee Danny Kurmann later ejected Lupul in an
absurd call when Tuomas Immonen took a blatant dive
after colliding with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks prospect
on their way to their respective benches; earning
Immonen the ire of the crowd for the remainder of the
game. Earlier on in the match, Finn Tomi Maki was also
ejected after hitting Derek Roy from behind. After
falling, Roy took a Gregory Campbell dump-in to the
mouth leaving him with a bloody lip which Kurmann
assumed to be of Maki’s doing.

Brooks Laich and Gregory Campbell added singles for
the Canadians while Maki, Teemu Jaaskelainen, and
Matti Aho beat LeNeveu for Team Finland. With the
win, the undefeated Team Canada solidified a by to the
semi finals and will face the winner of this very same
Team Finland taking on Slovakia.

Notes: Tickets for this game were going on the street
for as much as $650 per pair, and selling! Washington
Capitals defenceman Steve Eminger who is with the
Canadians is playing himself into limited duty. Several
of the Finns were spotted taking part in the RBC
Fanfest activities this afternoon in place of resting
for the game.

Faces in the crowd tonight included Guy
Lapointe, Bobby Clarke, Paul Fenton, Tomas Steen, Mike
Barnett, Keith Gretzky, Shane Churla, Pelle Eklund,
Jim Benning, Slava Fetisov, and Dave Branch.

PERIOD 1

Scoring:

5:42 CAN Bouchard 1 (Eminger, Bell) PP

6:26 FIN Maki 2 (Naatatnen)

Penalties:


3:54 FIN Ruutu 2 (Hooking)

9:01 CAN Roy 2 (Holding)

14:31 CAN Upshall 2 (Charging)

19:35 FIN Immonen 2 (High Sticking)


PERIOD 2

Scoring:

1:06 CAN Laich 2 (Colaiacovo, Bouchard) PP
3:20 CAN Lupul 1 (Roy, Campbell)
8:31 CAN Lupul 2 (Colaiacovo, Wellwood) PP
10:06 FIN Aho 2 (Ruutu, Immonen) SH
11:20 FIN Jaaskelainen 1 (Pitkanen, Niinimaki)

Penalties:

5:53 FIN Maki 5 (Boarding)
5:53 FIN Maki 20 (Game Misconduct)
16:21 CAN Parenteau 2 (Cross Checking)

PERIOD 3

Scoring:

5:12 CAN Campbell 1 (unassisted) SH

Penalties:

3:19 CAN Lupul 5 (Cross Checking)
3:19 CAN Lupul 20 (Game Misconduct)
10:42 FIN Ruutu 2 (Roughing)

——————————————————-

PLAYERS OF THE GAME

Canada: Marc-Andri Fleury, 13 saves & shutout

Finland: Joni Pitkanen, 1 assist

——————————————————-

GOALTENDERS

Canada: David LeNeveu (2-0) pulled at 31:20,
Marc-Andri Fleury
Finland: Kari Lehtonen (2-1-1)

——————————————————-

LINE COMBINATIONS

Canada:

Laich-Bouchard-Parenteau
Paille-McClement-Tootoo
Upshall-Wellwood-Gordon
Campbell-Roy-Lupul

Eminger-Bell
Woywitka-Colaiacovo
Rouleau-Paetsch
Stajan-White

Finland:

Ruutu-Maki-Naatatnen
Aho-Jokinen-Bergenheim
Sykko-Niinimaki-Lehtisalo
Mikkonen-Fagerstedt-Juntunen

Pitkanen-Jaakola
Immonen-Timonen
Jalasvaara-Jaaskelainen
Kalteva-Filppula

——————————————————-

SHOTS ON GOAL

123F

Canada1117735
Finland851124

——————————————————-

OFFICIALS

Referee: Danny Kurmann (Switzerland)
Linesmen: Peter Feola (USA), Daniel Stricker
(Switzerland)