In what ended up being the closest of the four quarterfinal matches at the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship, Team Finland defeated Russia by a 4-3 score.
A goal by by Russian forward Yaroslav Alexeyev (MVD Balashikha – RUS) drew his team within one of Finland with 7:29 remaining in the third period, but Russia could not produce the equalizer in the remaining time.
The scoring star of the game was Finland forward Eeli Tolvanen (Sioux City – USHL), who notched a hat trick via a goal in the first period and two second period markers. Forward Jesse Puljujarvi (Karpat Oulu – FIN) scored the other goal for the Finns, his second point of the game to go along with the primary assist on Tolvanen’s third goal.
Other scorers for Russia were Max Marushev (Irbis Kazan – RUS) and Dmitri Samorukov (CSKA Moscow – RUS), with Alexeyev picking up a second point via an assist on the Samorukov goal.
The win sends Finland into a semi-final showdown with the USA, the first time the two countries have faced each other at this tournament.
While Finland hasn’t been as stingy in the goals against department as have Canada or the USA, the 12 goals they have surrenderd in five games is the best figure among the other eight teams in this U18. A young but steady defensive group led by Juuso Valimaki (Tri-City – WHL) and Robin Salo (Sport Vaasa – FIN) has improved as the tournament has progressed, helping to place the Finns in the mix for a medal win.
Salo spoke to the media after the win over Russia, with his comments being included in this Hockey’s Future video.
Highlights from the Finland-Russia quarterfinal match can be viewed below.
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