RUSSIA SCORES EARLY AND OFTEN, ROLLS PAST FINLAND INTO U17 FINAL
JASON LA ROSE
SARNIA, Ont. – Vladislav Sukhachyov stood tall between the pipes, stopping 30 of the 31 shots he faced to lead Russia past Finland 6-1 on Friday night and into Saturday’s gold medal game at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The Russians are into the final for the third time in four years, and will face the United States on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN2), looking for their second gold medal in that span.
Dmitri Alexeyev, Dmitri Sokolov and Maxim Bain had a goal and an assist each for Russia, which avenged its 5-4 shootout loss to the Finns in Monday’s preliminary round meeting between the teams.
Vitali Abramov, Vyacheslav Shevchenko and Nikita A. Popugayev also scored.
Emil Oksanen had the lone goal for the Finns, who will meet Sweden in an all-Scandinavian bronze medal game on Saturday afternoon (1 p.m. ET, TSN2) at the RBC Centre in Sarnia.
After falling behind 4-0 when the teams met Monday, the Russians struck quickly; Alexeyev’s point shot found its way underneath Finnish netminder Leevi Laakso at 2:49, and Bain doubled the lead just 80 seconds later.
Finland got one back when Oksanen banged in a power play goal from in close at 6:31, but Abramov pushed the lead back to two at 10:21, making it a 3-1 game and chasing Laakso, who allowed three goals on five shots.
The Russians dominated the second period, outshooting Finland 14-6 in the middle frame, and added two more goals late; Shevchenko found a loose puck to the right of goaltender Kimmo Rautiainen to make it 4-1, and Sokolov finished a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play with German Rubtsov and Alexander Podkorytov less than two minutes after that, sending Russia to the second intermission with a commanding four-goal lead.
Finland started to push offensively in the third period, racking up 14 shots to Russia’s five, but couldn’t find a way past Sukhachyov, who made more than one “how did he do that” save in the game.
Popugayev added the sixth and final goal with under two minutes to go, providing the final margin of victory.
Despite coming out on the losing end, the Finns held the advantage in shots on goal, 31-28.