World U17: Team Finland vs Team Pacific – Game Story

January 1st Team Pacific Vs. Team Finland (U17 World Championship)This game started off a little bit slow with some hesitant back and forth play and didn’t really appear that either team was looking to take a hold of the play. Team Pacific started putting a little bit more pressure on the fore-check and tried to keep some offensive attack going on the play as the minutes started to tick by before Jake Virtanen was able to walk right into the slot to put a great shot on from scoring area and just hit the post on his opportunity. [sociallocker] Things really started to open up a bit though after Finland opened the scoring on a goal by Aleksi Saarela who took the puck on a great rush with some nice speed to walk around the Pacific defense and cut to the net to make a great move and score the game’s opening goal 9 minutes into this one. However team Pacific responded quickly about 30 seconds later as Matt Revel made some great moves to beat a defender and put a low shot on net to generate a great rebound, which Ryan Graham was able to finish on to respond quickly to Finland’s goal. Just 20 seconds later Jake Virtanen made a very similar move to beat a defender and walk in and finish the play with a great back-hand move to beat the goalie and score to give his team the lead. Then only 2 minutes after that on the power play Virtanen again picked up the puck on a pass just outside the slot to the side in the offensive zone and scored on a real nice shot where he just picked his spot to give his team a 2 goal lead. Team Pacific would hold that lead for the rest of the period to go into the first intermission with a 3-1 lead over team Finland.

Team Pacific basically held on to this lead as they were picking off many passes in the offensive zone to steal the puck and keep pouring on the pressure and they were finding ways to walk into the slot. This was shown as Brayden Point took the puck showing some really excellent hands on an end-to-end rush with some great moves to drive the puck to the net. Later on Conner Bleackley took the puck and walked into the slot with ease to put a shot on right from point blank off the rush. Tyler Sandhu showed some nice speed off the rush coming in down the wing and then made a great toe-drag move to get to the slot and open up some space to put on a good shot from in tight.

In the second period Pacific got a power play early on, and they were able to control the play well as Mayo took a nice hard shot from the point put on target and Reid Duke cashed in with a goal, showing some nice hand-eye coordination to bat it in out of mid air to start off the scoring less than 3 minutes in to the period, with Pacific’s 4th goal of the game. Finland then got an opportunity on the power play to try and get this game a bit closer, but team Pacific did an excellent job of using their sticks to keep Finland out of the middle and to force them to the outside. Finland was having some real trouble getting their shots through on the power play as Pacific was blocking shots and forcing those plays to be made from the outside.

Once the Finish power play was over, Pacific started to control most of the play again as Bleakley made a really nice pass to the slot to find a teammate and did a nice job on the back-check to pressure the puck carrier and try to force turnovers. Matt Revel was able to steal the puck in the offensive zone and then made a great move to beat a defender and get a great chance from in tight. The line of MacMaster, Point, and Duke had a really great shift as well showing some great passing plays and cycle to keep the pressure down deep in the offensive zone and to generate some good chances as well off the cycle. Martin was jumping up in the play to keep the attack alive and get some good shots in from in tight as well. What was really costing Finland for the most part were all of the turnovers, especially those right up the middle and allowing Pacific to capitalize on the turnovers with some great chances from good scoring areas, like when Bleakley was able to pick up a turnover in the offensive zone and get a great shot on from the high slot, then pick up the puck and make a nice pass out to the slot to find a teammate from behind the net.

There were a couple poor decisions made by Pacific as well however, like when Revel had a 2-on-1 opportunity and decided to take the shot and miss the net high, or when Virtanen turned the puck over by trying to walk into the slot with too many moves. Finland ended the period on the power play and Thomas Foster did a great job getting in lanes to block shots. Rantinen then started to pick it up late in the 2nd period for Finland on the power play as he made a great wide drive and cut to the middle of the net for a nice chance in tight, and then on the same shift got a great shot opportunity from the side of the net and just rang the great shot off the bar.

As the third period started Pacific looked very strong putting some really good pressure on the fore-check, trapping in the neutral zone and getting in lanes trying to keep Finland to the outside and collapsing to their net. Joni Tuulola finally was able to penetrate Pacific’s defense and was able to walk into the slot for a really nice shot from a great scoring area. This started to get Finland rolling as Kapanen then displayed some incredible hands to get to the slot and generate a good chance as well as draw the penalty on the play. On the power play Lamsa was able to get open next to the net to take a feed from Tuulola to score the team’s 2nd goal of the game on the one-timer opportunity. This lead to some great momentum for Finland and they really started to pour on the pressure.

Pacific had a few opportunities of their own like when Virtanen had a great rush with speed to come in off the wing to drive the net for a great opportunity for the shot, but his chance was stopped and Finland came back and Kapanen made a great cross-ice pass across finding a great lane to Kiviranta to score Finland’s 3rd goal of the game and bring the score to between one. Finland kept pressuring as Atte Makinen had a great play to take the puck and put on a good shot right from in the slot and pick up his rebound to put another shot on and hit the post. A few minutes later Kapinen had a simply incredible spin move to get by a defender with some amazing hands to get in on a break with a great shot to tie up the game with 8 minutes to go. Kapanen was buzzing after that play making another great rush up through the neutral zone but turned the puck over trying too many moves.

As the game went to over-time it went pretty similarly to how this game started with what appeared to be some hesitant back and forth play and not really any good chances until Pacific started to pour on the pressure really pushing the play in the dying seconds before this game went to a shootout. Both shooters missed their first shots before Point scored on a nice back-hand move and Virtanen also scored to win the game for team Pacific. 3 Stars of the game:

18 Jake Virtanen, Team Pacific: Virtanen had 2 goals and added another in the shootout to win this game for Pacific. He was generating tons of chances all night getting some great shots off from the slot and hitting the post on a few opportunities. He is a fast player with some excellent hands and moves and can rush the puck up the ice very effectively. He was able to open up in the slot to take passes and showed that he has a really good shot as well.

24 Kasperi Kapanen, Team Finland: Kapenen had a goal and an assist but easily could have had many more goals with so many chances generated in this game. He displayed some really elite hands and skills on a few moves to get around defenders with some great individual efforts and was hard for team Pacific to contain on rushes into the offensive zone. His pass to Kivranta across the ice for the one-timer goal was just exceptional showing some really nice vision to see his options and execute the play as well.

6 Miro Keskitalo, Team Finland: Miro impressed with an all around solid performance. His play in his own zone was a key factor in keeping his team in the game. He was very good down low in 1 on 1 situations doing a great job taking proper angles keeping good position. He battled hard including blocking shots. At one point he took a shot in a bad spot that hobbled him but he kept going and even blocked another shot while he was struggling in pain from the original blocked shot.