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Finland tops Germany to clinch spot in medal round

Wednesday, 12.29.2010 / 10:35 PM / 2011 World Junior Championship

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Finland tops Germany to clinch spot in medal round
Joonas Nattinen scored for the third straight game and Finland clinched a spot in the medal round with a 5-1 defeat of Germany at the 2011 World Junior Championship.
Finland continued its strong play at the 2011 World Junior Championship, clinching a spot in the medal round with a 5-1 defeat of Germany in Pool A play Wednesday at HSBC Arena in Buffalo.
 
Joonas Nattinen scored a goal for the third straight game, and Erik Haula, Joonas Donskoi, Jesse Virtanen and Miikka Salomaki had goals as Finland won its second straight game following its tournament-opening loss to the U.S.
 
Goalie Joni Ortio stopped 28 of 29 shots in the victory.
 
It was the third straight strong effort for Finland, which dropped an overtime decision to the U.S. in its opener, and then beat Switzerland 4-0 on Tuesday.
 
"We're getting to know each other a little better every day," said Finland captain Sami Vatanen, a Ducks prospect. "We never played much together before the tournament, but it's starting to come together. We want to win a medal; it's been a long time."
 
Tobias Rieder, a top 2011 Entry Draft prospect playing for the Ontario Hockey League's Kitchener Rangers, scored for Germany.
 
After killing off a two-man Germany power play, Nattinen opened the scoring at 15:59 of the first period when he re-directed a Tommi Kivisto shot past Germany goalie Philipp Grubauer.
 
Salomaki made it 2-0 at 6:23 of the second, and then Donskoi and Virtanen scored 1:32 apart later in the period to make it 4-0.
 
That spelled an end to Grubauer's night, as he was replaced by Niklas Treutle.
 
Rieder converted a Marcel Noebels 3:28 into the third period to get Germany on the board, but Haula's goal with 3:53 left closed the scoring.
 
"We wanted to play like we did (Tuesday), get the puck deep and create offense," said Vatanen. "We were a little slow in the first period, but we got a couple of goals in the second and that made the difference for us."
 
Germany, which won its Division I WJC tournament last year to earn promotion to the main tournament, now will be back in the relegation round.
 
"We didn't stick to our game plan," said Germany captain Laurin Braun. "The same things went wrong again. We didn't play defense well, and we got off to a bad start. No one feels good right now, but tomorrow is another game."
 
Germany plays its final preliminary-round game against the U.S. on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).
 
Finland finishes preliminary-round play Friday against Slovakia.
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I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets