Finland vs Switzerland: As the World Junior Championship winds down, the action is heating up. The semifinals are at hand, and one unexpected candidate is going to make the gold medal game. Finland and Switzerland will square off for a shot at that honor, while tournament favorites Russia and the United States will face each other for the other spots.
Event: World Junior Championship
Team: Finland vs Switzerland
Date: Friday, January 4, 2019
Game Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
Aleksi Heponiemi, a center in the Florida Panthers’ organization, was the hero, scoring on a bizarre ricochet from behind the net with 46.4 seconds left to get the game tied at 1. The Finnish team was buoyed by their special young net minder, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, whose 25 saves, including saving a Maxim Comtois penalty shot in overtime, kept Finland in the game long enough for Toni Utunen to score the game winner.
Luukkonen may meet his match in Switzerland’s Luca Hollenstein, whose 32 saves were obviously integral in shutting out and defeating Sweden. It was Luca’s all around, as Luca Wyss scored the second insurance goal that salted the game away for Switzerland and carried them into the semifinal. Friday and Saturday are the final days of the tournament, so be sure to tune in while you can.
There’s no question that Finland should have the better team and be the favorite here. But something has seemed special about the Swiss team from the very beginning. They were a tough matchup throughout the preliminary round, and scored a mega-upset against the Swedish squad. Could their momentum carry them through to the gold medal game?
Switzerland’s coach Christian Wohlwend certainly thinks so, even though his country has never made a WJC final. When asked by TSN if he thought his team could win gold, he responded: Switzerland will certainly be an underdog again when they take on the Finns, but that hasn’t stopped them before. Expect an exciting matchup in Friday’s final game.