CALGARY – The silver lining for Canada's World Junior Championship is bronze.
Paced by the Barrie Colts duo of Mark Scheifele and Tanner Pearson, Canada blanked Finland 4-0 at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday to capture the bronze medal.
Mark Visentin, in his first start since Dec. 29, stopped 27 shots to record the shutout.
The game marked the first time Canada hasn't been a part of the gold medal game since 2001, but the bronze continues Canada's consecutive streak of medaling in 14 consecutive tournaments.
The game started as one would expect between two teams that suffered heartbreaking losses with a gold medal berth on the line. But after getting over their passive pace, Canada broke through Finnish starter Sami Aittokallio on the power play near the midway mark of the first period.
With Ville Pokka off for tripping, Pearson redirected a perfect pass from Barrie teammate Scheifele behind Aittokallio to give Canada a 1-0 lead at 9:08 for his first of the tournament.
On the power play again with just over four minutes remaining in the period, Canada almost gave up a shorthanded goal. Mikael Granlund sprung brother Markus in alone on Visentin. Markus deked, but Visentin got a pad on his shot to keep Finland off the board in the opening 20 minutes.
Pearson returned the favor to Scheifele in the second. Just 25 seconds following Visentin's stop on streaking Finnish sniper Teemu Pulkkinen, Pearson found Scheifele in the slot with a pass from below the goal line. Scheifele pumped the puck over the blocker of Aittokallio to extend Canada's lead to 2-0 at 5:35.
Pulkkinen had a prime opportunity with 2:32 remaining in the period to cut the lead to one. After Visentin was penalized for throwing his stick during a crease scramble that saw the Finns nearly get on the board, Pulkkinen was awarded a penalty shot. He broke in, cocked his stick and then fired a shot that Visentin was able to close his pads on.
The save proved monumental when Quinton Howden connected late in the period.
While Miikka Salomaki was sitting for two minutes after a confrontation with Nathan Beaulieu, Howden slid a Ryan Murray rebound between the legs of Aittokallio to make it 3-0 with 30.7 seconds remaining in the middle period.
In Canada's gold medal game a year ago against Russia, the Canadians took a 3-0 lead into the third period before yielding five consecutive goals in a 5-3 Russian victory. Visentin, the goaltender of record for that loss, ensured Canada wouldn't repeat their third period collapse in 2011.
Just 2:01 into the third, Joonas Donskoi chipped a puck on net that went over Visentin. The Canadian netminder didn't mind, making a spectacular behind-the-back glove save before the puck could cross the goal line to keep Finland off the board.
Howden put the finishing touches on the game with his second of the game and third of the tournament with 2:25 remaining, completing a nice three-way passing play involving Freddie Hamilton and Mark Stone. Author: Erin Nicks | NHL.com Correspondent