Finland finally flexed its muscles in the Czech Republic, beating winless Kazakhstan by a score of 5-0. Finnish goaltender Riku Helenius was named the Finland player of the game.
|Kazakhstan - Finland 0:5 (0:1, 0:2, 0:2)|
|Goals and Assists: 3. Aaltonen (Jalvanti, Salminen), 24. Kemppainen (Lajunen, Lehtivuori), 27. Kemppainen (Kousa), 47. Lucenius (Juutilainen), 49. Puustinen (Lucenius).
Referee: Konc, Šindler - Bláha, Mašík.
Powerplay goals: 0:3.
|Kazakhstan: Smolnikov - Fast, Savchenko, Bolyakin, Kurshuk, Gerassimov, Tumashov, Ramazanov, Tikhonov - Kachulin, Gasnikov, Rymarev - Kitsyn, Vitoshkin, Mazula - Paramzin, Ivanov, Vorobyov - Koreshkov, Savenkov, Kaznacheyev
|Finland: Helenius - Lehtivuori, Lajunen, Purolinna, Malkamaki, Jalvanti, Kousa, Jarvinen, Poysti - Aaltonen, Kemppainen, Salminen - Pesonen, Sallinen, Warn - Lucenius, Juutilainen, Puustinen - Lahde, Malinen, Liivik|
Kazakhstan, a non-traditional hockey country and former member of the Soviet Union, has been shifting back and forth between Division IA and the top division of the IIHF’s World Championships in the last few years. That being said, Kazakhstan has made vast improvements to their program in the last decade. They have begun to make a name for themselves. However, tonight Finland flexed its muscles and showed why it has remained as one of the top hockey powers in the world.
Finland jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead just 2:59 into the game. Nico Aaltonen scored the goal for Finland, but Joonas Jalvanti did the yeoman’s work in getting the puck to the net. Once it got there, Altonen just jammed it through Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Smolnikov’s five hole.
Usually in this tournament, Kazakhstan has gotten out to a fast start. They scored the first goal of the game against the United States, but ended up losing 5-1. Against Russia, they led 2-1 after the first period. Perhaps teams have underestimated Kazakhstan. However, this game was unlike the others for the Kazakh’s. For a while, it seemed like Kazakhstan was going to put one in on Riku Helenius, the Finnish goaltender. Kazakhstan nearly scored to tie the game with just three seconds left in the first period.
As the time disappeared from the first period, so too did Kazakhstan’s chances of winning their matchup with the Finns. In the second and third periods, Kazakhstan took too many penalties to stay competitive.
Joonas Kemppainen opened the 2nd period scoring just three minutes into the period. It was on the power play. Kemppainen answered his goal with another just three minutes later – though this one was at even strength. For this goal, Kemppainen skated into the Kazakh zone and ripped a shot over Smolnikov’s left shoulder. It was perfectly placed.
Kemppainen, Finland’s leading scorer thus far, gave Kazakhstan a lot of credit. “The match was very hard,” Kemppainen said. “Our goalie was very good and we were okay, maybe not so good. The first goal I got a great pass and the second goal, I skated the whole rink and got a good shot off,” he continued.
For a little while at the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 3rd, it looked like Kazakhstan was beginning to spark and gain some momentum. Each time, they took a penalty. They began the 3rd with two penalties – and Finland made them pay by Niclas Lucenius’ two man advantage power play goal. From there, Finland never turned back – Kazakhstan was well deflated.
Finland and Switzerland’s match up tomorrow will say a lot for the relegation round. The winner will not be subjected, but the loser could be facing off against Denmark or Slovakia from Group B to decide who is relegated for next year’s tournament.
Finland’s coach recognized the game’s importance. “In light of our future on this tournament it was a realy important victory for us tonight. The most valuable player of our team was goaltender Helenius, who made some great saves especially in the first period when Kazakhstan had some good scoring chances,” Jukka Rautukorpi said following the victory.
Kazakhstan, a young team, just ran of gas, said its coach: “The problem is that there are many young players on this team and after the first period they ran out of power,” Oleg Bolyakin said.