POPRAD, Slovakia — Kristian Vesalainen scored three goals as Finland defeated Canada 6-3 on Tuesday at the world under-18 men’s hockey championship.
Canada (3-1-0) suffered its first loss of the tournament and finished the preliminary round second to Finland (4-0-0) in Group A. Both teams advanced to the quarter-finals.
Vesalainen opened the scoring with a power-play goal just 56 seconds into the game. Miro Heiskanen, Santeri Virtanen and Teemu Engberg also scored for the Finns.
Jack Studnicka, Jett Woo and MacKenzie Entwistle had the goals for Canada.
"We were quite fired up to play and took a penalty the first shift and they scored on the power play," Canadian team coach Darren Rumble said. "The energy level was good, the passion was good but we were a little bit too ramped up, I think.
"It’s the first bit of adversity that we’ve faced. That team (Finland) is probably in the gold medal game so our goal will be to get another crack at them."
The game was tied 1-1 after the first. But then the Finns took control, outscoring Canada 5-2 over the next two periods.
"We had some good components to our game but they were better so we’ve got to be better too," Rumble said.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 17 shots for Finland. Ian Scott and Jacob McGrath combined to make 28 saves for Canada.
With the quarter-finals start Thursday, Rumble’s team will get a much-needed break after playing twice in as many nights and three times in the last four. And the loss to Finland just reinforced the importance for Canada to not only play fast and physical but also play smart.
"They’re a good team and were the better team," Rumble said. "Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to lose a hockey game just to refocus because it makes you understand how hard it is to win and how good your level has to be.
"We’ll be looking for the same start, same energy (in quarter-final round) and just try to have contained aggression. That would be a good way to put it."