It may have been a nerve-wracking game for the hometown fans to watch, but Team Finland’s 4-3 overtime victory over Russia in the gold medal game at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship will be that much more memorable for all involved after a see-saw third period and sudden-death goal.
The player that made the memories for Finland was forward Kasperi Kapanen (TOR), who deked Russian goaltender Alexander Georgiev (2016), then skated behind the Russia net for the wraparound goal 1:33 into overtime to end a back-and-forth affair that will likely go down as one of the more memorable gold medal games in WJC history.
Russia drew first blood in this one, cashing in a first period power play opportunity when Vladislav Kamenev (NSH) beat Finnish goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen (MIN) to give Russia the 1-0 lead. The period ended with that score, with the Russians ourshooting the Finns by a 13-9 count.
The second period was scoreless, but a pair of penalties to Russia in the first nine minutes allowed Finland to gain some momentum as the period progressed. The Finns outshot Russia 9-2 in the middle frame, setting the stage for a wild third period.
It didn’t take long for Finland to even the score, with Patrik Laine (2016) beating Georgiev to tie the score at one just 24 seconds into the third. But the fans had barely settled back into their seats after the goal celebration when Russia regained the lead, with Andrei Svetlakov (2016) scoring the first of his two goals on an unassisted effort just 1:17 after Laine’s goal.
A little over eight minutes later, Finland’s explosive first line went to work on their second goal of the period, with Sebastian Aho (CAR) doing the honors on helpers from Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi (2016).
Russia then ran into penalty trouble over the next five minutes, a point of contention for the Russians that provided Finland with an opportunity to take the lead. And take the lead they did as, with defenseman Dmitri Sergeyev (STL) in the box, Finnish captain Mikko Rantanen (COL) deflected a Vili Saarijarvi (DET) shot past Georgiev to give the Finns the 3-2 lead with 2:09 left in regulation time.
This set the stage for a frantic finish that included Russian captain Kamenev being assessed two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after protesting Rantanen’s goal. Russia pressed on, however, and with time winding down and Finland fans on their feet at Hartwall Arena anticipating the win, Ivan Provorov (PHI) wristed a point shot towards Kahkonen that went off Svetlakov and into the net to tie the game with 6.9 seconds remaining.
But Kapanen ended it early in overtime, and the celebration began in Helsinki. Puljujarvi was named the Best Forward in the tournament, as well as the MVP, a fitting choice considering the impact that he and several other 2016 NHL Draft prospects had on this WJC.
Kapanen and Kahkonen spoke with the media after the win, with their comments being captured in this Hockey’s Future video.
Highlights from the gold medal game between Finland and Russia can be viewed below.
Follow Chapin Landvogt on Twitter via @