Team Canada defeated Team Finland 4-1 and finished first in Group A to start a game with the Czech Republic in the medal round

EDMONTON – You have been described as a stone in the shoe of any nation daring to battle the tiny but mighty Finland in a hockey match.The Finns are smaller than Quebec or Ontario and have won three of the last seven junior world titles

If this really was Canada’s first big test at the 2021 tournament, they passed it like a home-schooling kid with the internet at their fingertips

Dominant? The 4-1 final score doesn’t tell how easy it was for the Finns to own the puck for more than one run in a row in the first 40 minutes

The shots on goal in period 1? How does 17-1 sound in favor of the red team?

“We were really excited to get out of there,” said Dylan Cozens, who scored the first and last goal of the evening. “I think that was our best time in the tournament so far”

The shots came after 40 minutes 35: 7 – a total of 40:19 – and Canada reached the quarter-finals with a perfect 4-0 record, which however still had to be tested by a team that could be considered to be equivalent

“Team Canada”, the Finnish coach Antti Pennanen wondered, “they were so good at the beginning of the game”

Canada beat their opponents 33-4 in the group stage by allowing only 67 shots in four games, or 17 per game

Unless Finland has played sope-a-dope, apparently there are only three teams to test Canada here, and they are on the other side of the draw: Russia, the US and Sweden, Canada will likely only have one or two of these teams see as it is the Czech Republic that is waiting for the quarter-finals with the sudden death on Saturday

If Canada plays as well against the Czechs as they did against Finland on Thursday, they’ll win by five or six

Canada’s pre-exam came like the tide – line by line, line by line As if they were being attacked by a beehive, poor Finland must have felt the only solution was to grab the puck and hit a lake somewhere jump

It’s exactly what the game’s head coach, Andre Tourigny, wants from his charges, and you could feel the confidence in his voice that the lessons he taught are sown and now taking root

“I said to our players:” You can be proud of an achievement or be proud of your achievement. Both are good, but being proud of your achievement is even better, “said Tourigny after the game

His players take what he sets up, and when the result produces such a dominant game against a good team like Finland, it builds that connection between player and coach

“We played our best game so far,” said Cozens, who leads Team Canada with six goals and eleven points in both categories. “They had a hard time getting out of their zone … and it really showed our identity speed – us made a lot of sales and went very quickly in the other direction

“We’ve been a little (on) the edge so far. We really got in tonight”

Bowen Byram, the lock-looking defender, at 1Playing 000 NHL games agreed

“Today was our best 60-minute effort. In the first two periods we were all over it,” he said. “It showed our identity. We are happy and on to the quarter”

Yes, something really clicked for Canada on Thursday, possibly due to the impending defeat Finland apparently let Canada dig a little deeper than Germany, Switzerland or Slovakia, and what the Canadians found was golden

“When you have that depth, you have to take advantage of it,” Tourigny explained. “You’re playing at a pace that takes the game to a level and you can’t do it for 45 or 50 seconds, you have to do your shifts hold briefly – that’s 30, 40 seconds – then it’s the next man. If four lines play with a lot of speed, the guys are doing it. Every time they step on the ice, they play with a lot of energy and effort

Somehow the Finns found themselves in the final moments of the game with the goalkeeper drawn and pressure in the Canadian zone. Just one shot away from a game with a goal, two minutes before the end of the game

It was so Finnish: 45 minutes dominated, the result was still only 3-1. A good shot and it would have been 3-2, and who knows?

Unfortunately, Cozens stole a puck and found the empty net, and there would be no Helsinki heroes that night

“At the beginning of the game we weren’t ready at all. Team Canada was so good,” said head coach Pennanen. “They won all the battles, the loose pucks, we tried to improve those things and I think we did Done But we had some problems at the beginning of the game

Team Canada was so good today. So many good players, well trained Such a good team ”

The Finns barely touched the puck in the first phase. It was a shock. This shouldn’t be so one-sided

“They like to shoot the puck a lot – I had to concentrate the whole time,” said starting goalkeeper Kari Piroinen. “We knew what they were going to do, but we couldn’t find a way today”

Finland has won three of the last seven World Juniors, not bad for a country of 5 million people, but they have to find a whole new level to see Canada again – the game the Finns played on Thursday won’t do them from the quarterfinals

“We didn’t play as well as in the last game (against Slovakia)”, admitted defender Mikko Kokkonen. “We didn’t put out pucks early and had to defend longer. We didn’t have the energy (to go on the offensive) ”

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