International Ice Hockey Federation

Norway pays the penalty

Norway pays the penalty

Finnish PP flattens rivals

Published 04.05.2015 23:21 GMT+2 | Author Andy Potts
Norway pays the penalty
OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC - MAY 4: Finland's Joonas Kemppainen #24 and Petri Kontiola #27 jump to avoid the incoming puck in front of Norway's Lars Volden #31 during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Finland’s special teams came to the party to pile on the punishment for winless Norway in a 5-0 victory paced by rookies Esa Lindell and Joonas Kemppainen.

After bringing the third best PP to Minsk last year, Suomi had failed to convert a single power play in its opening two games – but turned that around as Norway’s discipline failed midway through the second period.

Lindell was the key player: blessed with a booming shot from the blue line the young D-man took full advantage of Norway’s indiscretions to launch a barrage on Lars Volden’s goal as this Nordic duel went exactly according to the Finnish playbook.

A spate of minor penalties gave Finland a string of five-on-three advantages from the moment Alexander Bonsaksen was cited for boarding on 28:21 until Niklas Roest served his hooking penalty on 30:23. In that time Norway gave up two almost identical goals as Juhamatti Aaltonen twice fed Lindell for the slap shot and both times the rebound popped up for World Championship rookie Kemppainen to snaffle his first international goals since the 2009-10 Euro Hockey Tour.

Not that Kemppainen is working about personal milestones - he's focused on maintaining his team's rebound from a slow start. "The first game was pretty bad for us," he said. "But now I think we played two good games and we can be happier - but we can still play much better."

That second-period sequence saw Finland stretch its first-period advantage to 3-0 as the impressive Lindell called the shots. Earlier he opened the scoring in the 6th minute – inevitably on another power play – to pot his first goal in World Championship play with a ripper that beat Volden through traffic. After three games of this tournament the promising defenceman already has a healthy 1+3=4 tally to his credit.

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Petri Kontiola praised the youngsters Lindell and Kemppainen for their contributions. "Lindell and Kempainnen have been our best players since we’ve been here," he said. "It is great to be on the same team with them and it is fun to watch them elevate their game. They are easy-going guys off ice too and we have a lot of fun with them. They are very talented and that's the reason we won tonight."

Norway had to endure a demanding start to the competition with games against Russia, USA and Finland in the first four days. However, it refused to buckle and traded shots more or less evenly throughout the opening stanza before earning a 5-on-3 power play of its own just before the hooter as Pekka Rinne had to work harder for tonight’s shutout than he did against Denmark 24 hours earlier.

The goalie attributed his team's improved fortunes to a change in mindset after that 5-1 drubbing against the Americans. "In the US game we tried to make too many plays, we lost of lot pucks and they were coming back at us right away," Rinne said. "In these last two games we've been using our speed creating a lot more opportunities, the guys are scoring goals. Our power play, our special teams have been doing more. It's a much more typical Finnish team. This is the way we like to play."

Rinne stretched his unbeaten stretch to 120 minutes but the Norwegian offence is in need of a little pep at times: Patrick Thoresen and Matthis Olimb have proved a threatening axis up front, but too often they seem to be left to carry the scoring for the Scandinavians. That point was neatly illustrated early in the second as Norway looked to convert that double advantage. A great diagonal from Mattias Norstebo found Mats Roselli Olsen in a dangerous position, but the forward took too long and the chance withered along with the power play.

But after three defeats on the bounce the Scandinavians are still confident that better times are ahead. Bonsaksen summed it up: "We knew there was a chance we'd be down 0-and-3 at this stage but we're still keeping positive," he said. "We're looking at the four games to come and we're still seeing a chance to qualify for the play-offs."

Finland, meanwhile, kept doing what Finland does. That means being comfortable moving the puck around, eager to set traffic swirling around Volden’s net and ever capable of carving out chances thanks to its trigger happy blue liners.

And it was another shot from the point that triggered a third-period goal rush. Jyrki Jokipakka thumped home a Leo Komarov pass to make it 4-0 on 51:15 and Jussi Jokinen added a fifth within a minute.

Finland improves to 2-and-1, steadily banishing memories of its opening 1-5 reverse against the Americans; now it enjoys a two-day break before facing Slovenia. Norway, stuck with a 0-3 record after that daunting start, goes on to face Slovakia on Wednesday.


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