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Finns take revenge on Danes

Krog shines in defeat with Denmark outshot 62-7

Published 29.12.2017 13:42 GMT-5 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Finns take revenge on Danes
BUFFALO, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 28: Finland's Janne Kuokkanen #9 skates with the puck while Denmark's Jonas Rondbjerg #16 chases him down during preliminary round action at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Last year, Denmark beat Finland for the first time ever at the World Juniors. But on Thursday, the Finns made sure history didn’t repeat itself, winning 4-1.

Danish goalie Kasper Krog had a far busier outing than his Finnish counterpart Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen as shots on goal massively favored Finland, 62-7. (Canada set the single-game shots record in Moscow on January 4, 1988, outshooting Poland 95-30 in a 9-1 win.)

"I think I showed what I’m capable of," said Krog. "Now I’ve just got to do the same moving forward. I’d say I’m not that tired. I’m just starting to cramp up in my legs a bit. But that’s how it goes."

Of Krog's performance, Finnish captain Juuso Valimaki said: "Unbelievable. Got to give a lot of credit to him."

Valimaki and Henri Jokiharju led the way with a goal and an assist apiece, and Joona Koppanen and Aapeli Rasanen also scored. Miro Heiskanen added a pair of assists. Finland bounced back after losing its opener 4-2 to Canada.

"Obviously we got more than 60 shots and they blocked probably another 30, I don’t know," said Valimaki. "They didn’t really get any scoring chances, so obviously we were on top of the game. We’ve got to make sure we manage our scoring chances a little better, but it’s a big win and it’s a good thing."

Nikolaj Krag replied for Denmark.

The Finns, with nine returning players, are aiming to medal after a disastrous ninth-place result in Montreal in 2017. They last won gold on home ice in Helsinki in 2016. Their next game is on Saturday against underdog Slovakia.

Denmark is pointless through two games, and must improve against Canada on Saturday and Slovakia on Sunday if it is to crack the quarter-finals for the fourth straight time.

Asked for the key to success against Canada, Krog said: "As soon as we get into the zone, we need to get pucks on net and then try to outwork them when we’ve got the puck – and the same when they’ve got the puck."

The Finns sent a message that this year would be different when they scored on their first shot on goal. Koppanen’s quick release from the left faceoff circle squeezed through Krog’s pads at 2:49.

At 6:56, Rasanen snared Eeli Tolvanen’s rebound off the end boards and roofed it for a 2-0 lead. It was total Finnish dominance in the first period with an 17-1 edge in shots.

Just 1:38 into the second period, the Danes struck back on their opening power play. Krag zapped home a high wrister from the right faceoff circle, beating Luukkonen stick side. That was Denmark’s third shot.

But like true Corsi believers, the Finns kept firing away. Krog did his part, including a tough glove save on Markus Nurmi halfway through the game. However, he couldn’t stop Valimaki’s rising center point drive (shot #40) to make it 3-1 at 15:38.

At 17:44, Jokiharju put the game out of reach, pinching in to bang home a rebound. Danish coach Olaf Eller called his timeout, but there was nothing he could say to turn the tide now.

"We shot a lot, but I give a lot of credit to Team Denmark," said Jokiharju. "They blocked so many shots. It’s kind of tough. I’ve never played against guys who block so many shots."

In the third period, Finland's biggest moment of concern was when a prone Joni Ikonen accidentally blocked his own teammate's slapper in front of Krog. But he got up and carried on.

During a subsequent Finnish power play, Danish captain Christian Mathiasen-Wesje showed a lot of guts when he stayed on the ice for eons after painfully blocking a Jokiharju drive. When he finally got to the bench, he earned a warm round of applause from the spectators. Perhaps that kind of selflessness will give the Danes something to build on.

"It’s huge," said Krog of his captain. "He did the same thing last year, and it’s outstanding. We’ve been talking about that all the time, that we’ve got to sacrifice and work hard. And to see him do that, it’s great."