International Ice Hockey Federation

Finns finish fifth

Finns finish fifth

Liikala's strike defeats the Czechs

Published 13.01.2018 01:24 GMT+4 | Author Andy Potts
Finns finish fifth
DMITROV, RUSSIA - JANUARY 12: Finland's Viivi Vanikka #26 scores a second period goal against the Czech Republic's Kristyna Blahova #1 during placement round action at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. (Photo by Steve Kingsman/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Solid goaltending from Sanni Ahola and goals from Viivi Vainiika and Julia Liikala gave Suomi the edge in the 5th-place play-off match-up.

Finland secured fifth place at the Women’s U18 World Championship in Dmitrov after thwarting the Czech Republic in Friday’s classification game.

The two teams lost out in Wednesday’s quarter-final ties, and met for the second time in the competition. Their previous encounter in Group B play saw the Czechs win to book their place in the playoff round.

After the disappointments of seeing their medal hopes ended in the previous games, it took some time for the teams to really get into the placement game. The first period featured few opportunities at either end, although Finland Sanni Ahola was the busier of the two goalies. That continued into the middle frame, with the Finns taking a string of minor penalties to hand the Czechs the initiative.

But the Czech Republic was unable to convert those power play chances and got caught by a sucker punch. Viivi Vainikka stole the puck in centre ice and got away from two Czech defenders before winning her duel with goalie Kristyna Blahova.

Falling behind felt like rough justice for the Czechs, and there could be few arguments when they tied the game in the 43rd minute with a goal from its first line. Laura Lerchova and the team’s leading scorer Kristyna Kaltounkova combined to supply Barbora Machalova with the marker.

But Ahola was in defiant form, and finished the game with 33 saves. That backstopped Finland to victory thanks to Julia Liikala’s goal on 53 minutes. That took her to three goals for the tournament; Elisa Holopainen’s assist made her Finland’s leading point scorer, joining Kaltounkova on seven from five games.

Both teams will play in Group B of next season’s competition, where they will be joined by Switzerland the winner of Division IA, which concludes Sunday in Asiago, Italy when Japan faces Italy in the crucial table-topping clash.

 

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