Finland will get their chance for revenge. With their 5–0 win over the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals Friday, April 1, they booked their ticket to the semifinals, where they will play Canada, a team that beat them 5–1 in the round robin portion of the tournament.
Right from the opening faceoff it was clear that the Finns were the better hockey team. They used their superior speed to drive wide around the Czech defence, unleashing shots at will upon Klara Peslarova in the Czech net.
Peslarova was equal to the task and the first period ended scoreless. Despite the Finns outshooting the Czechs 13–4, it was the team from the Czech Republic that had the best chance to score in the period when a scramble in front of the Finnish net ended with the puck sliding through the crease and off the outside of the post.
That breakthrough finally came with Finland on the penalty kill. A Czech defender lost the puck at the blueline, springing a Finnish forward in on net. Peslarova made the risky decision to come barrelling out of her net to try and poke the puck away but missed, allowing Riikka Välilä to tap the puck into a wide open net for Team Finland.
That goal opened the floodgates for Team Finland; they added three more in the remaining minutes of the second period and coasted for the rest of the game to take the win 5–0.
The most telling stat of the game was the shots on goal. Finland tallied 44, while the Czech Republic managed to only put eight shots on net throughout the entire game.
Playing in just their second world championship tournament in the country’s history the Czech team did well to make it through to the quarter-finals. As the lowest ranked team on the official IIHF rankings, coming into the tournament the Czechs were undoubtedly the underdogs going into every game they played throughout the tournament.
Finland will now turn their attention to Team Canada and their semifinal game that will take place Sunday, April 3.
While the Czechs and the Canadians are two entirely different teams it is clear that Finland will need to bring the speed and physicality to their game against Canada that they did Friday night, if they hope to avoid a repeat score line of the 5–1 loss they suffered to Canada earlier in the tournament.
Photos Tristan Davies/The Omega