Team Finland faced Russia three times at the U17 tournament which took place in Vierumäki, Finland in August 9-11. The Finnish roster, consisting of 2003’s, was quite similar to the one that took part in a tournament in Russia four months ago. Some changes were made, though, since there were seven new players in the Vierumäki tournament this past weekend.
In the first game, Russia defeated Finland 4-3 in overtime. The Finns tied the game with less than three minutes left in regulation, with a goal scored by Viljam Sandvik, but the Russians took the win. Despite a somewhat shaky start from the Finns, the teams were quite evenly matched, and the Finns actually held the lead in shots on goal (39-25). That was also the case in the other two games. Defenseman Viljami Juusola had an impressive performance on the Finnish defense and was named the team’s best player of the game. The Finnish goals were scored by Juusola, Sandvik and Atte Lehikoinen. All in all, it was definitely a promising performance from the Finns.
The start to the second game of the tournament was much better from the Finns. They played with more pace, moved the puck more efficiently on the breakout and they generated some quality offensive opportunities. Samu Salminen and Jere Virolainen scored on the power play in the third period, and the game was headed to overtime. Neither team was able to score, so the game had to be decided in a shootout. Kärpät forwards Sisu Yliniemi and Ville Koivunen both found the back of the net, so the Finns took a very solid 3-2 win. Juuso Helomaa looked very good in net, making 25 saves. Jere Virolainen was named the best player of the game for Finland. Here are the shootout goals from the Finnish team:
The final game on Sunday concluded the three-day tournament. The Russian team put on display a strong performance. They took a 3-0 lead early in the second period, however, defenseman Topias Vilén scored from the point to cut the lead to two goals. The Russians scored yet another goal before winger Rasmus Ruusunen scored a nice goal from center Verner Miettinen’s feed. The Russians eventually took a 6-2 win after adding two more goals late in the third period, one of them being an empty netter. Viljam Sandvik was named the best player of the game for Team Finland. While this certainly was not the kind of a result the Finns wanted from the last game, I think many players already showed improvement from last season, which is the most important takeaway from the event.