Sweden’s struggles at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge continued on Tuesday afternoon, with four goals from Finnish star Eeli Tolvanen leading the way in a 6-2 win for Sweden’s biggest rivals.
One of the major reasons why the Finns were able to defeat the Russians back on Monday was due to early first period scoring, something that hurt them against Canada Red on Sunday. On Tuesday, it took Henri Jokiharju just 6:11 to find the back of the net, squeaking the black puck below Olle Eriksson Ek’s right arm for the 1-0 goal to get things started.
It was no secret that the Swedes were truly struggling in the first period of games, and after allowing two first period power play goals against versus Canada Red yesterday, they looked to avoid having a similar problem. Of course, Finland’s top player Eeli Tolvanen wasn’t too interested in playing friendly, and when a too-many-men penalty hurt them with four minutes to go in the period, Tolvanen made sure to make them pay with a one-timer to double the lead.
The Finns would find the back of the net twice more early in the second, adding to the belief that this was going to be a blowout. First, with just 24 seconds complete in the period, Joni Ikonen made up for an early penalty in the first by knocking in the loose puck past Eriksson Ek, giving the Finns the 3-0 lead. Then, with 12 minutes complete in the second, Tolvanen got his second of the contest after finding a loose puck in a scramble in front of the Swedish crease, giving his team the four-goal advantage in a battle that looked pretty much over.
But was it? Just nine seconds after Tolvanen put the puck in the net, Timothy Liljegren, the lone Swedish goal scorer last night, ripped a hard shot over Lassi Lehtinen and in for the 4-1 goal with eight minutes still to go. Two minutes after that, Lucas Elvenes redirected a shot from Rickard Hugg in front of Lehtinen and all of a sudden it was a two-goal lead.
Just for good measure, the Finns added another power-play goal with just 33 seconds left in the middle frame. For the third time in the game, Tolvanen would hit the twine for the hat-trick, the first for any player in the tournament.
Tolvanen was clearly having himself the best performance of anyone in the tournament, so why not find a way to put the puck in the net once again? In the first minute of the third period, the Sioux City Musketeers superstar easily scored his fourth goal of the period, making Eriksson Ek look like a snail by firing it much faster than the goalie could react. Sweden would get one from Rickard Hugg with just over two minutes left, but with a three-goal advantage that late in the game, it was clearly out of reach as the Finns would hold on for the big 6-3 victory.
While Finland’s final position has yet to be determined, Sweden will meet the Americans in a 4:30 pm EST meeting on Thursday for the first quarter-final match of the tournament.
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