Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Canada off and running

Canada got goals from four scorers and solid goaltending from Carter Hart, the goalie of record in last year's heart-breaking loss to the U.S. in the gold-medal game in Montreal.
Canada’s first goal was impressive. Boris Katchouk simply skated past two Finns to get to a loose puck and create a breakaway. He made a quick deke on goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, hitting the post and he pushed the puck past the goalie. It hit the post, caromed off Luukkonen’s skate and went it. As this was happening, though, Katchouk crashed into the crossbar and pushed the net off its moorings. Video review showed the puck crossed the goal line while the pegs were still in contact with the holes.
Luukkonen was last seen in IIHF competition in April, leading Finland til silver at the U18 championship in Slovakia. In fact, he is one of seven players from that team who have made the roster for Buffalo. 
Just 27 seconds later, Canada went up two goals thanks to a quick power-play conversion. Sam Steel snapped a loose puck into the net, sending the pro-Canadian crowd into a frenzy. 
The Finns came right back, though, scoring their first at 12:19 when Carter Hart inadvertently kicked a rebound right onto the stick of Aleksi Heponiemi. He wasted no time in making it a 2-1 game.
Another quick strike, this just 33 seconds after Heponiemi’s goal, restored Canada’s two-goal lead. This time it was poor defence by Finland that allowed Jonah Gadjovich to set up Drake Batherson for the easy back-door conversion.
Canada held Finland at bay in an evenly played second period. The Finns made it 3-2 at 7:31 on the power play when Henri Jokiharju’s point shot went all the way. But Canada made it 4-2 five minutes later off a broken rush. Taylor Raddysh collected the puck and fired a quick floater that eluded Luukkonen.
But the play of the game came off the glove of Canadian defenceman Callan Foote. He dove back to swat a rolling puck off the goal line midway through the third to keep it a 4-2 game. Video review showed the puck on the line--perhaps even partially over it--but the save helped preserve the victory. 

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