Finland wins Bronze at 2021 IIHF World Juniors Championship

The Finns secure third place with a 4-1 win over Russia.

Team Finland has won the Bronze Medal at the 2021 IIHF World Juniors Championship after defeating Team Russia 4-1 in Tuesday afternoon’s Bronze Medal game. In Monday’s semifinal matches, Russia was shut out 5-0 by Canada and Finland lost 4-3 to the United States.

Finland came out slow, as the Russians were desperate to open scoring after the prior night’s shutout. They found the first goal despite good defense from Finland, six minutes into the period. Ilya Safonov was quick to bury a rebound from Maxim Groshev and put Russia up 1-0 early, with a 5-0 lead in shots.

But Finland’s offense woke up in the second period and matched the Russians in shots. Team captain Anton Lundell tied the game with a deflection from a shot high in the slot by Topi Niemela. Near the period’s close, two San Jose Sharks prospects, Artemi Knyazev of Team Russia and Santeri Hatakka of Team Finland (who had a small exchange in the first period, as well) went at it again and both received two minutes for roughing.

In the third period, Finland struck fast, setting up in the first two minutes in Russia’s end. A shot from the blueline was deflected by Mikko Petman to give Finland the lead. Shots began to tip in Finland’s favor and Russia started playing a more physical game. They pulled their goaltender, Yaroslav Askarov, with two minutes remaining and the presence of six Russian skaters was felt. Still, Anton Lundell widened Finland’s lead to two with a minute and a half remaining. Russia tried once more to ice six skaters and once again, Finland scored an empty-net goal, making the final score 4-1.

The players of the game were Ilya Safonov (2021 draft eligible) for Russia and Mikko Petman (2021 draft eligible) for Finland.

The Sharks had three total prospects in this game. Hatakka, who blocked a shot with his leg in tonight’s game in a way that will definitely bruise, scored one goal and one assist during this year’s World Juniors. He was a sixth-round selection (184 overall) by the Sharks in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

The aforementioned Artemi Knyazev played for Russia, scoring one goal and three assists over the course of the tournament and was Russia’s top-scoring defender. The Sharks drafted Knyazev in the second round (48 overall) of the 2019 draft.

Yegor Spiridonov also played for Russia, but went scoreless in seven games, while also taking two penalties. The Sharks drafted the forward in the fourth round (108 overall) of the 2019 draft.

The 2021 World Juniors Championship continues with the Gold Medal Game between Team Canada and Team USA tonight at 6:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. ET on NHL Network (USA) and TSN (Canada).