Finland, Russia to Play for Gold in Helsinki

The only action from non-NHL hockey circuits on Monday occurred in Helsinki, where the medal round of the World Junior Championships got under way. The day ended with Russia in the Gold Medal game for a second consecutive year, facing off against host-country Finland, marking the third consecutive year the host country has played for the Gold.

*Russia knocked off Team USA, 2-1, to clinch its spot in the title game. The Yanks went ahead, 1-0, on a Christian Dvorak goal 9:03 into the game, but Russia scored two goals in a span of 2:48 during the second period to take a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

*The Fins upset Sweden, 2-1. Like Russia, Finland spotted the Swedes a 1-0 first period advantage before a pair of quick strikes in the second. Roope Hintz and Antti Kalapudas scored 1:56 apart from each other. Earning the primary assist on both goals was Mikko Rantanen, the 10th overall pick of the 2015 NHL Draft. The Avalanche prospect has 26 points in 22 games for the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, and has seen action in six games for the Patrick Roy-coached varsity. The Finnish captain has a goal and four points in six games during the tournament.

*Russia and Finland will play each other in the Gold Medal game for the four time in the tournament’s history, and the first since 1998, Finland’s lone win in three matchups (Russia won in 1980 and 1984, while still the Soviet Union). Russia has won 13 Gold Medals (9 came as a the Soviet Union/Commonwealth of Independent States), second only to Canada, which has won 16. It leads the world with 33 medals. Finland will be going for its fourth Gold, and second in three years.

*Russia beat Finland, 6-4, in pool play.

*Team USA and Sweden will faceoff for the Bronze. Sweden will look to medal for the fourth time in five years while the Yanks will try to avoid not medalling for the fourth time in five years. A loss will mean three straight years of the Americans being shutout of a medal, which hasn’t happened since the U.S. failed to medal for six straight years from 1998-2003.

*The US held Sweden to one goal in pool play, but couldn’t solve Swedish netminder Linus Soderstrom, who made 46 saves to record the shutout in the 1-0 win. Sweden scored at least five goals in each of its other three round robin games, as well as in the quarterfinals, a 6-0 win over Slovakia.

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