Friday, April 9, 2010

Finland 5 Canada 4 U-18 Exhibition

ICE forward Max Reinhart is on Team Canada

MINSK, Belarus – John McFarland (Sudbury, OHL) scored a hat trick to pace the Canadian offence, but it wasn’t enough as Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team fell 5-4 to Finland in exhibition action on Friday night at the Minsk Ice Palace.

The game was Canada’s lone pre-tournament contest before opening the 2010 IIHF World Under-18 Championship next Tuesday against Switzerland in Bobruisk, located 138 km from Minsk. Canada is looking to improve on its fourth-place finish from the 2009 U18 Worlds in the U.S.

The Finns jumped out to a quick start, striking just 46 seconds after the opening face-off for an early 1-0 lead. But McFarland, one of three returning Canadians from the 2008 world championship, got Canada back on even terms less than five minutes later, scoring shorthanded.

The second period was a parade to the penalty box, as the two teams combined for 24 minutes in penalties in the middle frame. The Finns used an early power play to regain a one-goal lead thanks to Petteri Halinen, and pushed it to 3-1 when Teemu Pulkkinen beat Calvin Pickard (Seattle, WHL) at the five-minute mark.

McFarland notched his second of the game with two minutes left in the second period, but the Finns restored their two-goal lead before the buzzer sounded on Halinen’s second goal of the period.

Outshot 24-22 through two periods, the Canadians fell into a three-goal hole early in the third period when Mikael Salmivirta beat Kent Simpson (Everett, WHL) – who had replaced Pickard midway through the second period – to make it 5-2.

But the Canadians fought back, getting goals from Ryan Spooner (Peterborough, OHL), at 10:47, and McFarland, who wrapped up his hat trick at 14:42 to make it a one-goal game at 5-4. Despite outshooting the Finns 15-10 in the final 20 minutes Canada could not get the tying goal past Finnish goaltender Jonathan Iilhati, falling short in its comeback attempt.

Ryan Murray (Everett, WHL) added two assists for Canada, which outshot Finland 37-34 overall.