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World Championship: Pokka, Finland through to gold-medal game

by Emerald Gao / Chicago Blackhawks
Defenseman Ville Pokka (far right) and Team Finland are through to the gold medal game at the 2016 IIHF World Championship.

In a tournament that has showcased young talent from around the hockey world, the final game will feature plenty of it, as Finland and Canada booked their berths after going through tough opponents in the semifinals. In the first matchup of Saturday’s slate, Finland outlasted Russia in front of a partisan crowd in Moscow to emerge as 3-1 victors. They allowed the Russians to take an early lead inside the first three minutes of the game, but broke through with three goals in the second period, including two by 18-year-old Sebastian Aho on the power play.

Then, Canada and the U.S. staged a seesaw affair that resulted in a 4-3 win for the defending champions. Canada scored the first two goals of the game and finished strong with the last two tallies, sandwiching a three-goal effort by the Americans in the second period. Blackhawks forward Tyler Motte netted his first goal of the tournament to cap off Team USA’s scoring in the middle frame.

Finland, with Blackhawks defensive prospect Ville Pokka on the roster, will now attempt to become the first country to sweep the IIHF men’s events after winning the U20 and U18 tournaments earlier this year. They’ll take on Canada at 12:45 p.m. CT. Before that, at 8:15 a.m. CT, Russia will face Team USA, featuring young forwards Tyler Motte and Vinny Hinostroza, as the Americans go for a second consecutive bronze medal at Worlds.

Artemi Panarin (RUS): Although his line, one of the most dynamic at Worlds, was buzzing throughout the game, the 2016 Calder Trophy finalist did not record a shot on goal in 15:59 of ice time.

Vincent Hinostroza (USA): Hinostroza was utilized as USA’s 13th forward, seeing 3:18 of playing time, mostly with the fourth line as well as a couple shifts on power plays.

Tyler Motte (USA): Aside from scoring his first goal at Worlds, Motte turned in a strong checking performance while skating on an all-Wolverines line with J.T. Compher and Dylan Larkin. He logged four shots on goal in 11:58 of ice time.

Ville Pokka (FIN): He and his defensive partner, Esa Lindell, both age 21, have been assigned a tall task throughout the tournament, and Saturday was no different as Pokka found himself taking big shifts against NHL legends like Pavel Datsyuk and Alex Ovechkin. He was on the ice for Finland’s lone even-strength tally and finished the game with 14:24 of ice time.

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