Phew, what a whirlwind of a first game for Canada and Finland in the 2021 IIHF World Championships.
A rematch of the 2019 semifinal game, it was almost a given that this would be an exciting and fun game. And that’s exactly what we got!
Their first game basically featured three different teams, all appearing during a different period.
Between three penalties in the first 10 minutes of the game and rust from not playing in a really really really long time, Canada came out poorly. They looked lost and had zero puck control. Finland controlled all aspects of the play, and made Canada pay for it scoring two goals in the first six minutes and five seconds of the game. They showed signs of life in the last eight-ish minutes of the period (especially because they stayed out of the box) but Finland still played really great defense.
They came out for the second period looked better, but still not great. Even though they controlled the puck for the most part, they couldn’t connect on passes, still looked a tad bit sloppy, and discombobulated. Still, whatever was said in that locker room in intermission worked, and they had a little bit of pep in their skate. They scored two goals in a 20 second time span to tie the game, including an absolutely classic Marie-Philip Poulin goal.
CANADA GOALLLLLL— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) August 20, 2021
You literally Cannot and Should Not leave Poulin alone ever but especially right there
2-2 tie game pic.twitter.com/XIQvNcLPHS
The third period was the Final Form Canada. They truly dominated the play and looked like the Canada we’re more used to. They played fast, confident, hitting their passes. Their puck luck had also definitely turned their way as they scored a goal on a double deflect rather than previous periods where it probably would have deflected elsewhere.
Their penalty kill got markedly better too. They took a late penalty and, true to form, Finland pulled their goaltender to give them a two-skater advantage. But Canada played perhaps their best hockey, completely shutting down the middle and not letting up a goal.
Their slow starting didn’t end up coming back to bit them in the butt but in definitely could have. Tightening up their starts, and their defense, needs to be on their “must dos” list if they want to best their bronze medal from 2019.
Canada goals: Jaime Lee Rattray, Marie-Philip Poulin, Erin Ambrose (CAN), Sarah Fillier, Brianne Jenner (EN)
I really just want to start with this absolute beaut of a goal.
FINLAND GOALLLLL— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) August 20, 2021
holy smokes batman!! what a top corner snipe by tuominen to make it 2-0 finland pic.twitter.com/zjfOuGnsLC
Okay back to the rest of their play.
Finland looked fantastic out of the gate. They pounced on a poor playing Canada to put them on their heels. But after that, it was all Canada, all the time.
It’s not like Finland played bad either. Their defense looked great in the second period causing a lot of disruptions to Canada’s passes. Canada’s first goal (by Rattray) just barley eeked over goaltender Anni Keisala’s pad.
But they did have a few breakdowns. Leaving Poulin wide open at the top of the circles was definitely issue. It was a similar situation for Canada’s fourth goal, scored just 15 seconds after Finland had tied it up. The defense left Fillier alone where the rebound came right to her with basically a wide open net.
They kept it interesting towards the end of the game but Canada just overpower them.
Finland goals: Nelli Laitinen, Minnamari Tuominen, Elisa Holopainen
Czech Republic beat Denmark, 6 - 1
USA v Switzerland, 3-0