Just months after winning both the World Juniors and World Championships on ice, Team Canada finished off the 2014-2015 hockey season with a championship at the IIHF Inline World Championships, defeating Finland by a score of 4-2 on Saturday.
Finland came into the match as the pre-game favourites. Champions of the 2014 event over Canada last year, Finland came into the final with an undefeated record, yet just narrowly defeating Slovakia in their semi-final game yesterday. So it would come as no surprise when the Finns would get on the board first after Janne Lakkonen took a pass from Marko Virtala before absolutely crushing it over Brett Leggat, taking the 1-0 lead after just 1:17 into the contest.
The Canadians would battle back, however. Two minutes later, some slick passing by Brendan Baumgartner and Adam Ross eventually saw Dave Hammond pick up the puck, only to beat Finnish netminder Sasu Hovi with a nice shot of his own.
The second quarter didn’t see a lot of action for the most part, but it would see a team take the lead. Surprisingly, it wouldn’t be the Finns, as a goal with 4:18 remaining in the second quarter saw Canada take the 2-1 advantage. Brett Bulmer would be the one to put the puck in the net, making a slick move around a stand-still defenseman before using his wrist shot accuracy to fire it into the top of the net.
Brett Leggat came to play today in the Canadian net. After a shaky tournament that really saw him struggle to perform to the top of his abilities, the reigning top goalie of the tournament put on a show in the first half, making some absolutely incredible acrobatic saves. His 16 saves in the first 24 minutes made him the more busy of the two goaltenders, making three more saves than his counterpart in the Finnish crease.
Hovi did have his work cut out for him, however. One of his best saves was a falling glove stop on sharpshooter Hammond with 3:03 left in the third quarter, catching the puck in an impressive fashion to keep his team in the game. The forwards in front of him didn’t do a whole lot to change things in terms of offense, barely forcing Leggat to make many big saves in the third quarter.
Canada’s specialty in the game was slowing the pace down. Knowing that the Finns would try and be over-aggressive with the puck, Canada spent a lot of time bringing the puck back into their own zone and passing amongst themselves. That would make the Finns a little angry, and a tripping penalty to Kristian Kuusela wouldn’t help their case. On the ensuing power-play with seven minutes to go, Hammond would record his second goal of the night after his wrist shot whistled past everyone and in the top corner of the net, giving Canada the two goal lead at a key point in the game.
Was it over? Nope. The Finns knew that their chance at another gold was slipping away and did their best to ramp up the energy. With 4:40 left in the game, Jimi Palanto would send a shot over Leggat, capitalizing on their sustained pressure to put his team within one goal.
Canada immediately answered back. With just over three minutes left, Brendan Baumgartner took the puck from Adam Ross and raced in at a high speed, using his hard wrist shot to find the back of the net and take the 4-2 lead late in the contest. it was the final goal they would needed to finish off the tremendous tournament, defeating Finland 4-2 to win their first Inline World Championship title since 2012.
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