Finland defeats the U20 Czechs in tight game

By Johan Nilsson

Youngsters Jesse Joensuu and Michael Frolik stood out in this tight, but not overly entertaining game in the Under-20 tournament in Sweden.

Czech Republic vs. Finland 1-2
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Goal ScorerAssistAssist
1-0Michal Borovansky Josef Hrabal Lukas Pulpan
1-1Iivo Hokkonen   
1-2Juha Outila Jesse Joensuu  

Shots:

28 – 33
PIM:31 min – 27 min

Finland’s top line impressive from the beginning

Finland seemed greatly motivated at the start of the game and within three minutes of play they had already tested Czech netminder Vladislav Koutsky on three occasions. Third line center Jussi Makkonen fired off a good slap shot and then NY Islanders prospect Petteri Nokelainen had two scoring opportunities. But instead of a Finnish goal, Czech forward Michal Borovansky opened up the scoring after 4:13, beating Finnish goaltender Tuukka Rask with a slap shot. Unscreened, he should have stopped that one.

A minute later, Finland’s top line that included Lauri Tukonen, 2005 prospect Jesse Joensuu and Nokelainen, had a great shift. Tukonen displayed strong skating and technical skills entering the Czech zone and almost putting the puck past Koutsky. A moment later Nokelainen, with a backhand shot, nearly accomplished what Tukonen failed to, but it took until 16:11 before Finland managed to tie the game. Finnish winger Iivo Hokkonen released a shot that Koutsky could not control and then Hokkonen put his own rebound in net. The first period was fairly entertaining with Finland being slightly dominant.

Scoreless second period

The Czech players put some heavy pressure on Finland and Rask early in the period. Jakub Sindel had a shot that was just over the crossbar and the youngest player on the ice, Michael Frolik, shined with a pair of excellent passes. After having good momentum for a few minutes, things turned slightly after three minutes of play, when Michal Borovansky got called for hooking. After some initial clumsiness by Arsi Piispanen, Finland managed to put some pressure on the play and 2005 draft eligible Jesse Joensuu stepped into the action. He had a mediocre first period being outshined by linemates Tukonen and Nokelainen, but now he showed fine playmaking ability leading the power play. However, there the Finns did not manage to put the puck past Koutsky and once the penalty was over the Czechs came back strong again, but not for long. After little more than 10 minutes of play Joensuu found Nokelainen with a slick pass behind his back and Nokelainen all alone with Koutsky tried to put the puck up high, but was robbed.

The thin looking Piispanen was rather inconsistent in this game, sometimes being seemingly uninterested, only to shine the sequence later. With less than 20 seconds remaining, he displayed some nice technical skills as he stickhandled through some traffic and almost managed to deke out Koutsky.

Outila with the game winner

The score was still 1-1 entering the third period. The Finns came out forechecking hard in a period that the Finnish team controlled. After 4:29 Jiri Drtina was called for interference, but the play Finland displayed with their one man advantage was very poor. Five minutes the later, the Finns were given a new chance to score on the power play after the Czech goalie Koutsky was called for delaying the game. This time the play clicked and defenseman Juha Outila made it 2-1 with a slap shot from the blue. The shot was not very hard, but there was plenty of traffic in front of the net which made it impossible for Koutsky to see the puck.

During the last minutes of play the Czechs tried to tie the game, and with the goalie pulled with 1:42 remaining on the clock, they were just about to find their positions in the Finnish zone when Roman Cervenka took an unnecessary hooking penalty.

Overall, Finland was the better team in this tight, but not overly spectacular game. Both goaltenders, Tuuka Rask and Vladislav Koutsky, had good performances. The Finnish players seemed a bit more motivated and hungry.

Player notes – Finland

Arsi Piispanen – Piispanen was invisible at times, but had excellent technical skills and was an obvious scoring threat. He’s in big need of adding more bulk.

Tuuka Rask – Rask was very solid in net. He looked very comfortable when facing high shots and did not leave many rebounds. He made 27 saves.

Petteri Nokelainen – Nokelainen was named best Finnish player of the game and stood out more than the more talked about Lauri Tukonen. Nokelainen had great puck control and was tough to knock the puck off skating with low body gravity.

Lauri Tukonen – Not among the very best today, but Tukonen had several good scoring chances and the chemistry between him and Nokelainen was good.

Jesse Joensuu – After a slow start, Joensuu was among the more noticeable players in the second and third period. He showed good creativity and passing skills and had some big hits as well. On the downside Joensuu did have some problems with quick turns and was not too successful in his forecheck.

Teemu Laakso – Laakso was unspectacular, but good. He displayed a fine passing game but was not overly willing to join the rush.

Ville Mäntymaa – Stood out with a strong defensive game and made simple, but smart decisions with the puck.


Player notes – Czech Republic

Michael Frolik – Born 1988, but among the best players one the ice, Frolik is an excellent skater and had numerous of fine passes. He was very impressive on the Czech power play.

Vladislav Koutsky – Koutsky was named top Czech player of the game and did indeed shine stopping 31 Finnish shots.

Lukas Pulpan – Pulpan is a very short, but flashy, defenseman, an excellent skater with good offensive instincts. He had four shots on goal.

Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.