Canada wins Group A. They will take on the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.
Relentless. Merciless. Ferocious.
Those are some of the words that could describe Team Canada's effort in their New Year's Eve victory over Team Finland. The victory gave Canada the top spot in Group A, and a date with the Czechs in the quarterfinals on January 2nd.
Whitehorse's Dylan Cozens, wearing the Captain's C for the second time in the tournament, opened the scoring. A weak pass from Kasper Simontaival intended for defenceman Eemil Viro, was picked off in the neutral zone by Cozens. Moving into the Finnish zone, Cozens had his head turned toward Connor McMichael the whole way. But as goaltender Kari Piiroinen appeared to be prepared for the cross-ice pass, Cozens ripped the puck into the top short-side corner to give Canada a 1-0 lead. Although that was the only goal of the period, Canada was nearly perfect in their attack, outshooting the Fins 17-1 through 20 minutes.
Period two was more of the same for both teams. Goals from Dylan Holloway and Peyton Krebs gave Canada a three-goal cushion heading into the third period. The second period shots were 18-6 for Canada. Finland struggled to prevent Canada from hemming them in their own zone, which created some discipline issues for the Fins, who took four minor penalties through the first 40 minutes.
Finland battled back in the third, outshooting Canada 12-5, but they only managed to score once, on a powerplay goal from Brad Lambert just over five minutes into the period. From there, goaltender Devon Levi shut the door for Canada. Cozens picked up his second point of the game on an empty netter, which required another strong individual effort. From start to finish, it was exactly the game Team Canada needed heading into the medal round.
After the game, Cozens spoke about his team's collective effort, and their ability to use their speed to create such a relentless forecheck.
"We get good changes in the offensive zone to get fresh legs out, and just keep dominating them. The biggest thing we had tonight was our reload, getting back over pucks, creating turnovers and going the other way. I think that's what gave us a lot of success tonight."
Canada Player of the Game: Peyton Krebs - 1G 0A 2SOG
Finland Player of the Game: Kari Piiroinen - 3GA 36SV .920 SV%
Canada's next game is a quarterfinal matchup against the Czech Republic on January 2nd.