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WJC Recap: Finland 8, Slovakia 5

by Avery Buye / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Flames prospect, Markus Granlund indicated he feels right at home on Scotiabank Saddledome ice, recording his first two goals of the 2012 World Junior Championship within a four-minute span en route to a 8-5 Finland victory.

The win sets the stage for a Scandinavian semifinal between Sweden and Finland, a matchup with all the ingredients for an intense battle.

Finnish forward, Teemu Pulkkinen described it best when questioned about the rivalry.

“Hard to say anything, we are a better team,” Pulkkinen said with a laugh.

On the back of this victory, Pulkkinen acknowledges that the effort they put forth today may not suffice against a strong Sweden squad tomorrow.

With the first period ending a 2-2 draw, the brotherly duo of Mikael and Markus Granlund would catch fire in the second.

Mikael Granlund drew first blood of the period, making Slovakia pay for one of their eight minor penalties taken in the game.

Both of Markus’ goals would be set in motion with the assistance of his brother. The 2011 Flames draft pick’s first of the tournament and Finland’s fourth goal of the game was courtesy of a precision pass across the circles by Mikael. Markus made no mistake as he one-timed it past Juraj Simboch before he could get across the crease.

Less than four minutes later, Markus pounced on the remnants of an impressive play by his brother. Mikael, with 4 points (1g,3a) on the afternoon, maneuvered his way around Slovak defenceman Martin Marincin but was thwarted by Simboch’s poke check. From there, the puck would end up on Markus’ stick as he wired it through the five-hole.

Although Markus’ enjoys playing on the same line as his brother, he can’t quite describe what makes them click.

“It’s fun to play with him, but he’s a normal teammate and that’s it,” said Markus.

Finland’s Coach, Raimo Helminen has a simple philosophy for the chemistry between the siblings.

“They have lived their life together and they know each other. They can play hockey, they are good players,” said Helminen, acknowledging that the duo demonstrate a similar style on the ice.

The second stanza closed with Finland netting four and Slovakia one for a 6-3 score. The game ended much the same as it began, as each team exchanged a pair.

A notable record was also broken during the quarter-final game as the torch was passed from Sidney Crosby (2003) to Finn’s Aleksander Barkov as the youngest player to ever score in U20 World Juniors. At 16 years, four months Barkov weaved through the defence and put it in on the backhand to establish the new record at just 21 days younger than Crosby.

Sweden and Finland will face off in the semi-finals Tuesday at 3pm (MST) at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Author: Avery Buye

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