HELSINKI, Finland – Mitch Marner (Thornhill, Ont./London, OHL) scored twice on the power play in the third period, both times to tie the game, but Canada’s National Junior Team fell 6-5 to Finland in a Saturday quarter-final, ending its 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.
It’s the first time since 1998, also in Helsinki, that Canada will not play for a medal at the world juniors.
Lawson Crouse (Mt. Brydges, Ont./Kingston, OHL) had a goal and an assist, and Brayden Point (Calgary, Alta./Moose Jaw, WHL) added two helpers, joining Marner as the only multi-point scorers.
The Canadians started fast, taking a 2-0 lead before the game reached the 11-minute mark; Travis Konecny (Clachan, Ont./Ottawa, OHL) got a backhand by Finnish goaltender Veini Vehvilainen at 5:21, and Dylan Strome (Mississauga, Ont./Erie, OHL) tucked in a shot to double the lead at 10:59.
Finland cut the lead to 2-1 with 11 seconds left in the period when Patrik Laine hammered a one-timer that trickled through Canadian netminder Mackenzie Blackwood (Thunder Bay, Ont./Barrie, OHL).
Antti Kalapudas brought the Finns even with 6:18 gone in the second period, but Canada retook the lead just 62 seconds later after Jake Virtanen (Abbotsford, B.C./Vancouver, NHL) cut off a Finnish pass before feeding Crouse at the face-off dot.
Crouse’s goal meant the end of the night for Vehvilainen, who was replaced by Kaapo Kahkonen after allowing three goals on just nine Canadian shots.
The Finns struck back with a pair of goals before the end of the middle frame; Aleksi Saarela tied it at 15:44, banking a shot off Blackwood and in, and Julius Nattinen chipped a shot over the Canadian goaltender just 93 seconds after that to give the hosts their first lead.
The goals came fast and furious to start the third, with three in the opening six minutes.
Marner made it 4-4 at 3:14, sneaking his backhand just inside the post on a Canadian power play, but Sebastian Aho tied it 1:07 later, knocking a rebound past Blackwood.
The man advantage worked to Canada’s favour again at 5:57 when Marner picked up a loose puck and snapped a perfect shot over the glove of Kahkonen, but Laine converted on a five-on-three at 14:10 to cap off a thrilling final 20 minutes.
Despite the loss, Canada outshot the Finns 34-29.
Dave Lowry, head coach:
“It was a whole game of inches. I thought our guys did a great job. We stayed the course, we battled right to the end. We had a couple real good chances right at the end, and at the end of the day, they scored one more. The game we played today is the game we envisioned as a staff that this team would play every night.
“I’m real proud of the effort and the way that we stayed with our game.”
“Anytime you get to represent your country, it’s an amazing feeling. And to do it with these guys, it was incredible.”
“We came out and played our best game of the tournament, and to fall short, I think that’s the most disappointing thing. But it’s something to learn from. I’m very proud. It’s a tough tournament to win.”