International Ice Hockey Federation

Slovak cinderella story won't take place in Switzerland

Finland eliminates Slovakia 3-0

Published 25.04.2015 17:08 GMT+2 | Author Chapin Landvogt
Slovak cinderella story won't take place in Switzerland
LUCERNE, SWITZERLAND - APRIL 23: Finland's Patrik Laine #27 celebrates after a first period goal against Slovakia during quarterfinal round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
The high-flying Finns had to travel to Lucerne to face the upstart Slovaks, but had no issues in a 3-0 shutout.

Two teams that experienced very different preliminary rounds met for the first round of the quarterfinals. For Slovakia, the one highlight was a 3-1 first day victory over Sweden. A 4-3 OT shootout win gave them five points. Finland came in having lost but one game in the preliminary round, a 3-2 set-back against Canada. However, both teams were already guaranteed first or second place by the time they faced off.

Having little experience against each other and everything to lose, both teams took a very solid approach to the game right from the get-go. Things were back and forth until Patrik Laine gathered a loose puck in the neutral zone, barreled into the Slovak zone, and sent a bullet over the glove hand of Adam Huska. The goal came at the 6:39 mark of the first period.

The rest of the period delivered little in the line of scoring opportunities, even if Finland continued to display its excellent skating prowess.

The second period continued to be a situation of stalling, with Finland continually leading the attack and Slovakia placing its full trust in goalie Huska while clearing pucks whenever possible. Despite several strong opportunities, namely from Laine on several wrist shots and Julius Natttinen with several tips on goal – one even hitting the crossbar – Finland couldn’t find a way to solve Huska, who seemed to be getting more and more comfortable with every save.

The stalemate made its way into the third period. The Slovaks nonetheless earned their best chance of the game when they had a blueline shot tipped on net, requiring Finnish netminder Veihi Vehivilainen to make his best save of the day.

Continue reading

Things became more critical for Slovakia shortly thereafter when Sami Tavernier gained momentum skating into the zone and slid one through Huska’s legs out of the mid slot region. A stone of burden seemed to drop from Finland’s shoulders as the tally gave them a 2-0 lead that seemed to put Slovakia’s hopes on hold. The goal was followed by more offensive play from the Fins who added their third goal with 11:59 to go in the third. Interestingly enough, the goal was an almost carbon copy of the one before, seeing exactly the same combination. Arttu Ruotsalainen passed to Tavernier, whose shot slid right under Huska’s pads.

Frustration mounted for the Slovaks and before they knew it, they were facing a 5-on-3 PK situation for 34 seconds. They were able to kill it off effectively and then mounted the pressure when they themselves finally got a power play with just under six minutes to play. Time and time again, Vehivilainen stopped them in their tracks, making a glove save that garnered the strongest crowd reaction of the evening.

Although Slovakia had the power play to end the third period, they just weren’t able to establish enough pressure to get back into the game. Their dream of at least repeating the feats of their WJC entry came to end in the form of a shutout.

With that, Finland advances to the semifinals and will face the winner of the Russia vs Switzerland game, which concludes today’s action in Zug.