Ice hockey world championships final: Finland versus Canada

, posted: 13-May-2007 14:07

Suomi FinlandIn about fourteen hours' time, at two 4.15 in the morning here in New Zealand (if I've got the time difference worked out right), Finland will play Canada for the gold in the 2007 ice hockey world championships.

Ice hockey is the national team sport in Finland, but the comparatively small country is up against much larger ones, like Russia, the USA, Canada, Sweden and the Czech Republic. The Slovaks, also very good, are about the same size population-wise. Needless to say, everybody in Finland hopes the national team will go far in the tournament but with such formidable opponents, nobody dares to expect too much.

Last year, the Finns beat all the big nations and played Sweden in the Olympic finals - and lost. That was a bitter defeat, not just because Finnish Lions had done so well throughout that tournament, but also because Sweden is the hockey arch-enemy.

This year however, there won't be a Finland-Sweden final in the world championships. Finland's been a bit shaky in the 2007 tournament, losing against Russia (5-4) and Sweden (1-0) but made up for it by beating the USA (5-4) through sheer determination.

There was a lot of that - or sisu as Finns call it - in the semi-final against Russia. The Russians are very, very good, with players like Ovechkin, Kovalchuk and Malkin. They're skilled, big and fast and furthermore, played on home ground at Khodynka, Moscow.
The Finns however weren't intimidated and played a brutal game that literally floored (or iced) the Russians. Malkin nevertheless managed to score first, but Hentunen equalised while Finland had Koivu sent off 2+10 minutes; later on at 5:40 into overtime, Mikko Koivu became hero of the match with his 2-1 goal that sent Finland to the finals:

Next up is Canada, which made mince-meat out of 2006 champions Sweden and won the match 4-1. The Swedes were flattened by the huge Canadians who are tall (six players 6'3" and over, with only one under 6') and heavy at 86-103kg - what the hell do they feed them there? The Finns are not as big, and the Canadians are a tough bunch with lots of NHL players so the final will be much harder than the game against Russia. Finland will need an overdose of sisu to get through. I hope, I hope, I hope, but... the odds are heavily stacked against Finland. Hakkaapäälle sittenkin, Suomi! Update Sigh. Didn't work out this time either. Canada were too good... see dwm's comment below for links to news stories. Sweden folded against Russia too. Here's Tuomu Ruutu tackling Sergei Zinoviev during the Finland-Russia game:

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