Finns Win Gold at Worlds; Huskies Claim Memorial Cup

A day before the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins get it on in game one of the Stanley Cup Final, the hockey world was focused on Bratislava, Slovakia for the final of the IIHF World Championship and the final of the Memoria Cup in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The gold medal game for the World Championship ended in an upset as Finland defeated Canada 3-1 to claim the gold. It was the second time Finland claimed victory over Canada in this tournament.

The first prime scoring chance of the game went to the Finns as, at 5:28 of the first period, Canada’s Thomas Chabot was called for a trip and Finland was awarded a penalty shot. They did not convert on Canadian goaltender Matt Murray.

The Canadians then took the lead about five minutes later, at 10:02, when Shea Theodore scored what would be Canada’s lone goal from Anthony Mantha and Jared McCann. The Canadians took that lead into the second period.

Early in the second, the tide began to turn. Theodore took a tripping penalty 2:15 in and Finland’s Marko Anttila scored on the power play. That tied the game up at one which is where we would be when the third period came around.

In the third, it only took Anttila 2:35 to score what would go down as the game winner as he notched his second of the night. Harri Pesonen added an insurance goal at 15:54 to make it 3-1.

Canada would pull Murray for the extra attacker, but to no avail. They could not get things tied and Finland went on to claim gold. Canada wins the silver and the Russians claimed bronze by beating the Czechs 3-2 in a shootout.

Murray made 19 stops on 22 Finnish shots while Kevin Lankinen turned aside 43 of 44 Canadian shots in a great effort. Kaapo Kakko had one shot on net and was an even plus/minus in 11:58 of playing time over 21 shifts. For Canada, Damon Severson had two shots on net and a minus-1 plus/minus in 20:13 of ice time spread over 24 shifts.

So, while Finland was celebrating across the pond, in Nova Scotia, the Halifax Mooseheads and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies were meeting once again. This time it was to decide the 2019 Memorial Cup championship.

They met in the QMJHL Final, in the round-robin of the Memorial Cup and again here. Unfortunately for the Mooseheads, it was the same result. Rouyn-Noranda won the game 4-2 to claim the Memorial Cup.

Halifax, playing on home ice, took a 2-0 lead when Samuel Asselin scored late in the first period on the power play. Raphael Lavoie then scored 5:26 into the second to give the Mooseheads a 2-0 lead.

But from there, the Huskies took over, scoring four straight to claim the win.

Felix Bibeau scored at 10:27 of the second period to cut the lead to 2-1. Joel Teasdale, who would go on to be named the winner of the Stafford Smythe trophy as Memorial Cup MVP, tied it at 15:11 for Rouyn-Noranda.

The fate of both teams would change in a span of two minutes and one second in the third period. The Huskies’ Peter Abbandonato scored the game winner 3:02 into the third frame and then, at 5:03, Vincent Marleau scored to put the game out of reach at 4-2.

And that was the final. Rafael Harvey-Pinard, the captain of the Huskies, who would accept the Memorial Cup later on in the night, was named the game’s first star. The Mooseheads’ Lavoie was the second star while Justin Bergeron of Rouyn-Noranda was the third star.

In goal, Samuel Harvey made 23 saves on 25 shots against for the Huskies while Halifax’s Alexis Gravel turned aside 31 shots on 35 total for Rouyn-Noranda. Jocktan Chainey, in a losing effort, was a minus-1 plus/minus on the night for Halifax.

So, as we head off into the offseason, with the NHL now taking sole place on center stage, congratulations to Finland and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (who had a historic season in the QMJHL) on their championships and here’s to next season for all involved!

Gold Medal Game Set at Worlds

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! I can’t think of a better way to kick off the unofficial start of summer than with a little bit of hockey, so let’s get to it.

The gold medal game has been set at the 2019 IIHF World Hockey Championship. Along the way, the mighty Russians fell to a team of Finns that did not include quite the star power of their opponents and the Canadians took advantage of some timely scoring to set up our final.

The Russia-Finland game was a goalie duel and a good one. The only goal of the game came at 10:18 into the third period when Marko Anttila scored for the Finns. Henri Jokiharju and Joel Kiviranta had the assists on the only time the Finns solved the Russian goaltender.

Both Andrei Vasilevski (Russia) and Kevin Lankinen (Finland) traded great saves back and forth. Vasilvevski made 28 saves on 29 Finnish shots while Lankinen stopped all 32 Russian shots he saw.

Kaapo Kakko had three shots on net and was an even plus/minus in 16:25 of ice time spread over 22 shifts.

The Finns will now play for the gold medal while Russia will play in the bronze medal game. Their opponents would be decided in the next game.

Canada and the Czech Republic squared off for the right to face the Finns in the gold medal game. It was the Canadians who took advantage and punched their ticket to play for the gold. They defeated the Czechs 5-1.

Mark Stone continued his torrid pace when he scored at 5:18 of the first to give Canada the 1-0 lead. Darnell Nurse doubled the lead just 10 seconds into the second period when he scored from Sean Couturier. That made it 2-0 and the Canadians never looked back.

Pierre-Luc Dubois scored at 5:06 of the second from Jonathan Marchessault and Stone (who is the Canadians’ leading scorer for the tournament). That made it 3-0 Canada.

After this goal, the Czechs made a goalie change, pulling Patrik Bartosak in favor of Pavel Francouz. The Canadians had scored three goals on just 15 shots and the Czechs felt it was time for a change between the pipes.

But Francouz would fare no better as the Canada scoring binge continued into the third period. Kyle Turris scored at 6:26 to make it 4-0 and Thomas Chabot scored at 13:00 to make it 5-0.

The Czechs did get on the board when Tomas Zohorna scored at 13:59 of the third, but the damage was done. Canada had the 5-1 win and will play Finland for the gold medal tomorrow.

Matt Murray (playing on his 25th birthday) made 40 saves on 41 Czech shots while Francouz and Bartosak combined to make 25 saves on 30 Canadian shots.

Damon Severson had one shot on net and was a plus-1 in 22:46 of ice time over 31 shifts.

So now we are set for tomorrow as the Canadians and the Finns will faceoff for the gold and silver medals while the Czechs and the Russians will meet to decide the bronze medal. We will have that game for you right here tomorrow.

We will also have the Memorial Cup championship game for you here and, speaking of Canadian major junior hockey, there is some other Devils-related news out of the CHL.

Ty Smith, Devils defensive prospect and a member of the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL, won the CHL “Defenceman of the Year Award” for 2019. The blurb about his win on the CHL website mentioned that he finished “second in Chiefs team scoring and fourth among all WHL blue-liners as he tallied seven goals and 62 assists for 69 points in only 57 appearances.” He also had nine points in 15 playoff games for the Chiefs. The Chiefs were eliminated by the Vancouver Giants in the WHL Western Conference Final.

The CHL website gives his career WHL stats as “26 goals and 150 assists for 176 points in 194 career appearances.”

Smith becomes the first WHL defenseman to win this award since Ivan Provorov of the Brandon Wheat Kings in 2016. The CHL site says that the other finalists for the award this year were Evan Bouchard (London Knights – OHL) and Charle-Edouard D’Astous (Rimouski Oceanic – QMJHL).

Congratulations to Ty Smith on this great honor.