RÄSÄNEN SCORES IN SHOOTOUT, FINNS WIN DESPITE BLOWING BIG LEAD
JASON LA ROSE
SARNIA, Ont. – Aapeli Räsänen scored the only goal of the shootout in round four, and Finland survived a wild third period comeback by Russia to earn a 5-4 win Monday at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The Finns led 4-0 after two periods, and had a 24-13 advantage in shots on goal, but Russia scored four times in the final 12:42, including the tying goal with just one second remaining, to force overtime.
After a scoreless extra period and three rounds of the shootout without a goal, Räsänen, the Finnish captain, faked to the backhand before pulling the puck across his body and sneaking a shot past the outstretched pad of Russian goaltender Vladislav Sukhachyov for the winner.
Otto Somppi led the way for the Finns in regulation time, scoring twice, while Markus Niemeläinen and Jan Kluuskeri added a goal apiece. Räsänen had two assists before his shootout heroics.
Mihail Sergachyov, Nikita A. Popugayev, Nikita O. Popugayev and Dmitri Sokolov scored for the Russians, who held a massive 16-2 shot advantage in the third period, and ended up outshooting the Finns overall, 31-28.
Finland went on the offence as soon as the puck dropped, but it took until the 16:52 mark to open the scoring; Somppi took a hard pass out of the corner from Räsänen and beat goaltender Maxim Kalyayev.
Niemeläinen doubled the lead 1:58 later, rifling a wrist shot over the shoulder of Kalyayev for a 2-0 Finnish advantage after 20 minutes.
Somppi made it 3-0 at 4:44 of the second period, knocking in a rebound in front, and Kluuskeri tipped in an Otto Mäkinen pass at 10:24, giving the Finns a seemingly insurmountable lead and eventually chasing Kalyayev from the Russian goal in favour of Sukhachyov.
Russia finally got on the board at 7:18 of the third when Sergachyov stormed into the Finnish zone and snapped a shot that found its way under the cross bar on the short side of Finnish netminder Leevi Laakso.
That set up a wild final four minutes that saw the Russians score three times, including twice with Sukhachyov on the bench for an extra attacker.
Nikita A. Popugayev gathered in a rebound off the end boards and scored to make it 4-2 at 16:12, Nikita O. Popugayev jammed in a rebound at 17:54 and Sokolov took a pretty feed in front and tapped in the tying goal with exactly one second on the clock.
In the shootout, both goaltenders were perfect through the first three rounds, and Laakso turned away Sokolov for the second time to open round four and set up Räsänen’s game-winner.
The Finns will try and complete an unbeaten preliminary round on Tuesday when they face Canada Black at Sarnia Arena, while the Russians meet Canada White at the RBC Centre. Both games are 7 p.m. ET puck drops.