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IIHF – Finland overpowers Norway



Finland scored three first-period goals and never looked back in a 7-0 shellacking of Norway on Friday night. The host nation has won two straight games at the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship.

In front of a delighted Espoo crowd, Suomi’s stars stepped up. Emil Hemming had two goals and an assist, and Roope Vesterinen scored twice. Konsta Helenius chipped in three assists, while captain Aron Kiviharju had two assists. The Finnish power play cashed in three times.

“We played really well,” Kiviharju said. “We used our opportunities to score goals. We had a bit of problems with that against Latvia, and that made them feel that they were still in the game. Today, we got three goals in the first period. So that gave us some self-confidence and put the opponent down. They knew they wouldn’t have that big of a chance against us.”

The Finns are questing for their first IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship crown since 2018 and fifth overall. Norway’s goal is top-division survival, never having finished higher than ninth (2001, 2009, 2011, 2023).

Finland faces Slovakia next on Sunday in a rematch of the 2023 quarter-finals, which produced a 3-2 Slovak upset.

“At least for for me and the guys who were there last year in Switzerland, it’s about revenge for sure,” Kiviharju sai. “We’ve learned, hopefully, from our mistakes. We’ve got to rest one day and then we’re going to go really hard.”

Versus Norway, Finnish goalie Kim Saarinen had a light workload in his U18 Worlds debut en route to a shutout. The Norwegians got a harsh welcome to this tournament as they were outskated, outmuscled, and outshot 54-12.

The Finns set an early physical tone, with power forward Kasper Pikkarainen hammering Norwegian captain Ludvig Lafton on the forecheck as the fans oohed and ahhed. Likewise, coach Marko Kauppinen’s boys ran roughshod over their Nordic opponents on the scoreboard. 

At 7:48, Vesterinen drew first blood with a nice snipe from the left faceoff circle. Hemming doubled the lead at 9:24 with a one-timer on Finland’s first man advantage.

“I’ve been practicing [my one-timer] a lot this season,” said Hemming, a Liiga rookie with TPS. “It’s good that it works.”

Helenius set up Joona Saarelainen, who pivoted next to the crease to beat Norwegian starter Markus Walberg for the 3-0 marker on the power play at 14:51.

The Finnish onslaught continued in the second period.

Vesterinen notched his second of the night on a bad-angle rebound at 6:17. Lauri Sinivuori went to the net to convert Heikki Ruohonen’s cross-ice feed at 11:52. And just 43 seconds later, Niklas Nykyri scored unassisted for a 6-0 lead. That ended Walberg’s night as Norwegian coach Kim Veisten inserted Amund Martinsen between the pipes.

Martinsen had no chance on Hemming’s 7-0 power play goal with 14 seconds left in the middle frame. It was yet another beauty of a one-timer.

“We had a great performance,” Hemming said. “We didn’t really give any chances to Norway today. So I’m proud of my team.”

In a scoreless third period, Norway squandered its last good opportunity to spoil Saarinen’s shutout bid with Saarelainen in the sin bin for interference.

Norway’s U18 Worlds record against Finland drops to 0-7. The Finns have outscored Norway 53-8 on aggregate. Last year in Basel, Finland hammered Norway 10-2 to close out the group stage.

Looking ahead to Norway’s Saturday battle with the defending champion Americans, Lafton identified some keys: “We have to reset and just focus on tomorrow’s game. Put today’s game behind us and work, skate, get pucks deep, and make some nice passes.”

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