POPRAD, Slovakia – MacKenzie Entwistle (Georgetown, Ont./Hamilton, OHL) scored once and added an assist, but Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team dropped a 6-3 decision to Finland to close out the preliminary round Tuesday at the 2017 IIHF U18 World Championship.
The loss means Canada finishes second in Group A, and will play Russia, Sweden or the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals on Thursday, depending on results from other games Tuesday.
Jack Studnicka (Tecumseh, Ont./Oshawa, OHL) and Jett Woo (Winnipeg, Man./Moose Jaw, WHL) had the other goals for the Canadians, who were outshot 34-20 by the Finns.
An early penalty put the Canadians in a quick hole, with Kristian Vesalainen scoring on the power play just 56 seconds after the puck dropped, but Studnicka finished off a smart play by Josh Brook (Roblin, Man./Moose Jaw, WHL) to get Canada even less than three minutes later.
Both teams came out firing, combining for 22 shots in the opening period, but the game went to the first intermission tied 1-1.
The Finns started to pull away in the second period; Vesalainen struck again 30 seconds into the middle stanza, and Miro Heiskanen snapped a quick shot far-side on Canadian goaltender Ian Scott (Calgary, Alta./Prince Albert, WHL) before Santeri Virtanen converted a shorthanded breakaway for a 4-1 lead at 12:37.
Woo pulled one back for Canada late in the second, beating Finnish netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen through a screen with 1:22 left, making it a 4-2 game after 40 minutes.
But whatever momentum the Canadians had disappeared 84 seconds into the third period when Teemu Engberg restored the three-goal lead for the Finns and chased Scott, who gave way to Jake McGrath (Mississauga, Ont./Sudbury, OHL).
Entwistle got a bounce off a Finnish stick to score on the power play just past the midway point of the period, but Vesalainen finished his hat trick into an empty net with 1:38 to go to cap the scoring.
“[This] was a real measuring-stick game. By far [they’re] the best team we’ve faced, so now we know how good we need to be. We will regroup [Wednesday] and be ready for our quarter-final.”
– Darren Rumble (Barrie, Ont./Moncton, QMJHL)
“We knew coming in to the game we were playing a talented Finnish team. It was a tough game, hard-working, where we didn’t get the result we wanted. We’re turning the page and our next focus is on the quarter-final game, where we want to play the way we can and represent our country.”
– Nate Schnarr (Waterloo, Ont./Guelph, OHL) on how the team re-sets for the quarter-final