Wednesday8.2.2017
USA
2
Sweden
3
1 • Details
Czech Rep.
2
Finland
1
2 • Details
Thursday9.2.2017
Russia
3
USA
4
3 • Details
Czech Rep.
3
Sweden
4sn
4 • Details
Friday10.2.2017
Sweden
0
Russia
6
5 • Details
USA
3
Finland
2p
6 • Details
Saturday11.2.2017
Russia
1
Finland
2
7 • Details
Czech Rep.
2
USA
4
8 • Details
Sunday12.2.2017
Finland
3
Sweden
4
9 • Details
Czech Rep.
2
Russia
1
10 • Details
 
11.2.2017 | Derek OBrien

Finnish coach Niemela: “The key to winning is to play as a team”

After two games the Finns found themselves last place in the five team tournament with just one point, following two one-goal losses. It looked like they were on their way to a third straight narrow defeat, but the team came up with two goals in the third period against Russia to win 2-1.

 
 
 

It started with a 2-1 loss to the host Czechs in Prerov, in which they had several near misses – including a couple of goalposts in the first period. In the Finns´ second game, they played a lot better offensively and never trailed – until overtime, when they gave up the winning goal to the USA´s Mattias Samuelsson. Head coach Tommi Niemela was pleased with his team´s effort for the most part, and lamented the lack of good fortune.

“We played a very good game, which developed according to our expectations,” he said about the game against the Americans. “We were able to play the way we wanted to play, and that is why we managed to play with the lead for a substantial part of the game.

“We knew that we have to stay focused throughout the game to focus and play with a lot of tenacity. We did that well and we were able to fore-check. These are the points that I emphasized for our team,” he said about the positives of the game.

“But I am a little bit sad for the boys, and especially about the how we gave up the goals,” he continued, bringing attention to the areas where his team needs to improve. “We gave up one on our power play and then one on our penalty kill, so I think those are situations in which we should have been better.”

With a 1-0 lead in the second period they gave up a shorthanded breakaway in the second period, and then leading 2-1 in the third period it was equalized on special teams once more – this time by the American power play.

“Unfortunately we weren´t able to get it done today,” he concluded. “We met a strong opponent, so it was not going to be easy to win.”

Finland met another strong opponent on Saturday afternoon in Russia – a team just coming off a convincing 6-0 win over Sweden. However, luck was not with the Russians on this day, as they lost their captain in the first minute of the first period. The Finns were also affected by injuries, though, and also lost their captain – Santeri Salmela in the first minute of the second period.

“It was a great game, but with too many injuries,” he commented. “We played with eight forwards. Several defencemen had to play up.”

However, the team played with the hand it was dealt, and this time the Finns were the ones to come from behind. Trailing 1-0 in the third period, Rasmus Kupari and Valtteri Ojantakainen scored 26 seconds apart, and that´s all they would need for their first win of the tournament.

“Before the game we went over the game plan, and the guys took it seriously. The key to winning is to play as a team, because our game looked the way it should. I honestly think that we were the better team on the ice.”

The Finns now have one more game, on Sunday against arch-rival Sweden, where they will try to finish with two straight wins.

 
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