Watching the semi final game between Sweden and Finland at this year’s World Junior Hockey Championships, I was quite impressed by the Finnish crowd. They’ve been extremely helpful in rallying their team when they’ve needed a boost, and what’s been the most entertaining is the overall commitment to putting the fear into Sweden for even skating close to a Finnish player. Anytime there’s any contact at all against a Finn, even a stick lift, there are taunting choruses of aaaaahh’s and heeeeyyys.
There were a couple of soft calls against Sweden with the worst being a hit by Anton Karlsson on Finland defenceman Olli Juolevi. I can’t think of a cleaner, more routine check that’s ever been called a penalty. The glass rattled and Juolevi’s head did go backward after the fact, but Karlsson never came close to making head contact. That’s just what happens to your head when you get hit, and it wasn’t even that hard.
But Dmytro Timashov didn’t do himself or his team any favours with a pretty bad dive midway through the third that luckily wasn’t called, and oddly enough they didn’t get a shot on goal after that sickening display. Bottom line is Sweden didn’t earn anything. That doesn’t explain why Finland got away with clearing the puck over the glass with 34 seconds left. I know it technically went into the bench, but that was quite an arc on that bad boy and clearly would have gone over the glass had there been any at the front of the bench in line with the rest of the rink.
The bottom line is that Finland played better this game and deserved to win, and the home crowd is behind them every step of the way as it should be.