Finland 5, Czech Republic 4

Box Score

New York (The Draft Analyst)Jesse Puljujarvi scored two goals and Patrik Laine scored a tie-breaking power play goal with 5:57 left in the third period as host Finland defeated the Czech Republic, 5-4, at the world junior hockey championship in Helsinki.

With Czech left wing Simon Stransky off for a high sticking penalty, Laine, Finland’s sharpshooting right wing considered to be one of the top picks for the 2016 NHL draft, fired a blistering wrist shot from the high slot over goalie Vítek Vaněček’s outstretched glove with 5:47 left. Laine is tied for third in the tournament with four goals and eight points.

The back-and-forth affair saw the Czech Republic (2-1-1) and Finland (3-1) combine for five goals in the second periods following a scoreless first. Puljujarvi, also one of the top draft-eligible prospects, opened the scoring 57 seconds into the second period when he took a feed from Sebastian Aho and beat Vaněček low to the glove side. Puljujarvi has recorded at least two points in each of his four games. His 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists) leads the tournament through the preliminary round.

The Czechs responded with two goals in a 1:46 span, beginning with Jiri Smejkal firing a shot over goalie Veini Vehvilainen’s glove at 2:22. Jan Ordos made it 2-1 at 6:08 when he was left alone at the side of the net for a tap in.

The Finns answered back with two goals of their own, as Roope Hintz, a Dallas Stars prospect, converted a defensive-zone turnover by Tomas Soustal to tie the score 2-2 at the 8:06 mark of the second, and center Antti Kalapudas one-timed a power play goal just past the midway point of the frame which gave Finland a 3-2 lead.

Czech defenseman David Sklenicka completed a nice rush up the ice with a hard shot past Vehvilainen with just 33 seconds left, tying the score 3-3 heading into the third period. Michael Spacek gave the Czechs a 4-3 lead at 8:37 of the third, but Puljujarvi responded to tie the score with a power play goal less than two minutes later.

Aho and defenseman Olli Juolevi each finished with two assists for Finland, which clinched second place in Group B and will face Canada in the quarterfinal on Saturday. Juolevi leads all defenseman in scoring with six assists in four games. The Czech Republic will play the United States — Group A’s second-place team — on Saturday. Boston Bruins prospect David Pastrnak had two assists, and New Jersey Devils draftee Pavel Zacha picked up an assist in his return to the lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury.

Vehvilainen struggled but stopped 31 shots to pick up the win. Vanecek, who gave up only four games in his previous three games, made 22 saves in defeat.

Share Button