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Canada, Finland go for bronze after tough losses

Wednesday, 01.04.2012 / 3:33 PM / 2012 World Junior Championship

By Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

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Canada, Finland go for bronze after tough losses
Canada and Finland wanted to win gold at the world junior championship, but after tough losses to rivals Russia and Sweden, the two countries will play for bronze in the consolation contest Thursday.
CALGARY -- Canada and Finland played on the opening day of the 2012 World Junior Championship at Rexall Place in Edmonton, and now they'll play on the last day of action in the bronze medal game at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Despite a medal on the line, the consolation match (3:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN) will be a difficult game for the two teams to play after both clubs were dealt tough losses in semifinal action. Facing the same situation, members of both teams echoed that sentiment after failing to earn a berth in the championship game.

"We didn't come here to win a bronze medal," Finnish forward Teemu Pulkkinen said.

"It's not what you came here for," Canadian defenseman Brandon Gormley said. "We want that gold medal."

"We're obviously going to pick our heads back up and play the bronze game like we're supposed to and try to come out and win that game. Guys are upset and it's not what we wanted but it's a learning experience for all of us."
-- Canada goalie Scott Wedgewood

Canada's dramatic comeback fell just short in the semifinals, dropping a 6-5 contest to the Russians. After trailing Russia 6-1 in the third period, goals from Dougie Hamilton, Jaden Schwartz, Brendan Galagher and Brandon Gormley in a 4:57 span brought Canada to within one with just more than five minutes remaining in the game.

Ryan Strome hit the post in the final minute, but that was as close as they'd come to tying the game, pushing Canada into the bronze medal matchup with the Finns.

"It's not the reason we came here," said Schwartz, Canada's captain. "The reason we came here is to win the gold medal but we have to get up for the game as much as we can and we want to make sure we win the game."

Goaltender Scott Wedgewood, who left the game in the second period after taking a blow from Yaroslav Kosov following Russia's fourth goal, said Canada can put the loss aside with the opportunity to win bronze in front of them.

"We're obviously going to pick our heads back up and play the bronze game like we're supposed to and try to come out and win that game," Wedgewood said. "Guys are upset and it's not what we wanted but it's a learning experience for all of us."

Finland's defeat wasn't any easier to digest -- a 3-2 shootout loss to rival Sweden after holding a two-goal lead. Max Friberg's goal with 1:44 left in regulation followed a tally from William to force overtime and an eventual shootout.

The hero once again, Friberg's five-hole goal on goalie Sami Aittokallio won the shootout for Sweden, sending Finland into the bronze medal game.

Competing for the bronze was too difficult for Finnish captain Mikael Granlund to dissect.

"Right now, I can't even think about that right now," Granlund said. "It was a big disappointment for us and I can't say anything about that game. We wanted to do something special but now it went that way and that's all."

Not all is lost for either club, though.

A win in the bronze game would give Finland its first medal at the World Juniors since 2004. A Canadian victory will give them a top-3 finish for the 14th consecutive time in the tournament.

Canada coach Don Hay lost in this event for the first time Tuesday after winning all seven games to claim gold in 1995 and four straight wins in 2012 before the loss to Russia, is hoping his team sees the value in one more win.

"Every game you play is worth playing for," Hay said. "It's an honor to win a medal at this competition and our guys respect the fans and respect each other and I expect them to play hard for each other."
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