By Andrew Podnieks – IIHF.com
Sakari Manninen scored at 6:42 of the three-on-three unlimited overtime with a one-timer on a power play to give Finland a thrilling 4-3 win over Canada to win World Championship gold.
It’s the first medal on home ice in nine tries for Finland, and they join Sweden in 2006 as the only teams to win Olympic gold and World Championship gold in the same year. The double means that Valtteri Filppula becomes the first Finn to join the Triple Gold Club, the 30th member overall.
Finland scored three goals in the third period to erase a 1-0 Canada lead, but Canada responded with two late goals to send the game to overtime.
This marks a continuation of the most successful period in international hockey history for Finland, which has now won gold or silver in the last four major events – gold at the 2019 Worlds, silver in 2021, gold at the Olympics three months ago, and now gold at the 2022 Worlds. Goalkeeper Jussi Olkinuora, tournament MVP here, and skaters Marko Anttila and Atte Ohtamaa have been on all four teams.
Canada has now won either gold or silver in six of the last seven World Championships (excepting 2018).
Max Comtois is the only returnee from last year’s gold-medal team, but Thomas Chabot and Pierre-Luc Dubois were part of Canada’s 2019 entry, which lost to the Finns in the gold-medal game.
This was only the second World Championship game ever in Tampere between the two teams. The first was way back in 1965, a 4-0 Canada win when the tournament was strictly a round-robin event.
After Finland took a 3-1 lead with only six minutes to go, matters looked dire for Canada, but as they so often do, they fought back with two goals in the final two minutes.
It was clear from the outset what Canada’s plan was – dump the puck in and make the Finnish defenders chase it and work to get possession. Time and again, though, Canada roared in to get the puck, and although the period was scoreless the tempo and tone were dictated heavily by Canada’s pressure and willingness to use the body.
The home crowd chanted and clapped for their heroes time and again, but there wasn’t a lot to cheer for in the first 20 minutes. The few Finnish shots all had a familiar look to them – long range, right into the logo of Chris Dreidger, who swallowed every puck without giving up a rebound.
The best chance of the period came off pressure from Canada. Saku Maenalanen was slow with the puck inside his line, and he was checked by Matt Barzal, who got the puck to Josh Anderson, trailing the play. Anderson let go a quality shot from the slot, but Olkinuora got his right pad out to make the save.
Canada opened the scoring early in the second on the game’s first power play. With Niklas Friman in the box for hooking, Canada moved the puck around nicely to set up Dylan Cozens with a one-timer. He made no mistake, slapping a cross-ice pass from Barzal high to the open side before Olkinuora could get over.
The Finns earned a power play of their own later, and although they produced several good chances Dreidger was sensational in goal, kicking out one dangerous shot and smothering several other chances. Suomi had their best chance late in the period when Jere Sallinen hit the post.
After 40 minutes, tight defence, and one goal, no one could have envisioned a third period with five goals. Canada incurred not one, not two, but three overlapping penalties to start, and Finland cashed in big time. Mikael Granlund scored two goals in a span of 1:44, the first with a two-man advantage, and then one man, sending the crowd into a frenzy of delight. His first was a quick shot from the left side, and the second from the other side.
Making matters worse for Canada, Dreidger, who had played so well the last few games, injured himself trying to make the save on Granlund’s first shot. Matt Tomkins, who hadn’t played all tournament, was forced to come in. He surrendered the second power-play goal, a high shot over his glove.
The Finns went up 3-1 at 14:04 off a faceoff win. Joel Armia got to the puck first and wristed a quick shot through traffic that eluded Tomkins. And that seemed to be that. Two-goals lead, six minutes to play.
Canada had other ideas, though. They pressured Finland and got back in it when Zach Whitecloud drew Canada to within one with 2:12 remaining when he snapped a shot in. Tomkins came to the bench after the next faceoff, and Canada took possession immediately. After cycling and passing the puck superbly, Comtois tied the game at 18:36, silencing the crowd and sending the game to a fourth period, where Manninen made himself a part of IIHF World Championship history.
Media All-Star Team
Goalkeeper: FINLAND #45 OLKINUORA Jussi
Defender: FINLAND #4 LEHTONEN Mikko
Defender: USA #4 SETH Jones
Forward: CZECHIA #10 CERVENKA Roman
Forward: CANADA #80 DUBOIS Pierre-Luc
Forward: FINLAND #65 MANNINEN Sakari
Best Goalkeeper: FINLAND #45 OLKINUORA Jussi
Best Defender: FINLAND #4 LEHTONEN Mikko
Best Forward: CZECHIA #10 CERVENKA Roman
FINLAND #45 OLKINUORA Jussi