VANCOUVER, BC – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds teammates Morgan Frost and Barrett Hayton scored goals but Buffalo Sabres prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (Sudbury Wolves) stood tall, making 32 saves as Finland defeated Canada 5-2 before a crowd of more than 14,000 at Rogers Arena.
The pre-tournament finale saw Canada outshoot Finland 34-25 but the Finns had help from CHL graduates as Linus Nyman (Kingston Frontenacs) found the back of the net while former WHL standouts Aleksi Heponiemi (Swift Current Broncos) and Henri Jokiharju (Portland Winterhawks) both had assists.
The two clubs wrapped up the first period tied at one as Finland’s Otto Latvala scored shorthanded before Frost replied with five minutes left on the clock.
The Finns had a big second though, climbing into a 3-1 lead on goals from Nyman and Anton Lundell.
Eeli Tolvanen put Finland ahead 4-1 1:26 into the third period before Hayton kept Canada within two. Santeri Virtanan hit the empty net shorthanded in the dying seconds of regulation.
Vancouver Canucks prospect Michael DiPietro (Ottawa 67’s) got the start before the Vancouver crowd, surrendering two goals on 15 shots before Ian Scott (Prince Albert Raiders) allowed two on nine attempts.
“We did some positive things in the game and some not so positive,” said Canadian forward Maxime Comtois (Drummondville Voltigeurs), “but it’s pre-competition games and this is a learning process for our team. It’s only the third game we’ve played together and now we have two days to focus and be on top of our game against Denmark.”
Canada finishes with a 2-1 record in pre-tournament play, outscoring opponents 13-9. Finland played to a 2-0 record, with Sunday’s win following a 7-0 triumph over Denmark last Wednesday.
With exhibition play done, the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship begins Wednesday when Canada opens defence of its gold medal against Denmark (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
OTHER WORLD JUNIOR PRE-TOURNAMENT SCORES:
Saturday December 22nd:
United States 6 vs. Czech Republic 2
USA: Sasha Chmelevski (Ottawa 67’s) – 1G, 1A
USA: Jason Robertson (Niagara IceDogs) – 1A
USA: Kyle Keyser (Oshawa Generals) – 19 SV
CZE: Jakub Lauko (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies) – 1G
CZE: Filip Zadina (Halifax Mooseheads)* – 1A
Sweden 3, Denmark 1
DEN: Mads Sogaard (Medicine Hat Tigers) – 27 SV
Sunday December 23rd:
Russia 4, Switzerland 1
RUS: Alexander Alexeyev (Red Deer Rebels) – 1A