It was heartbreak for Team Canada on Wednesday as the squad was eliminated from the World Junior tournament.
The Canadians fell 2-1 to Finland in overtime of their quarterfinal matchup.
Finland’s Toni Utunen drove the winner past Canada goalie Michael DiPietro at 5:17 of the extra frame, after the Finns equalized the game with just seconds to spare.
“To lose like that, tough pill to swallow. Loss for words right now. Definitely not the way I pictured this tournament going, it’s really disappointing,” said a stunned DiPietro in a post-game interview.
The outcome came after a tight game that saw Team Canada lead for nearly two periods.
After a scoreless first period, Ian Mitchell netted the Canadians’ only goal on a pass from Barrett Hayton, the recipient of a cross-ice behind-the-back pass from Morgan Frost.
Finland pulled goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen with just under two minutes to play. With just 36 seconds left, the Finns kept the game alive on a bizarre goal that saw Finland’s Eeli Tolvanen bounce the puck off the back of the net and collect the rebound. His second shot hit Aleksi Heponiemi’s ankle and went under DiPietro’s arm to even the game.
Canada’s Maxime Comtois had a chance to end it in overtime on a penalty shot but was unable to solve Luukkonen.
DiPietro stopped 32 of 34 shots, and was named player of the game. At times throughout the game he was the subject of thunderous chants of “Di-pee-et-ro” from the more than 17,000 people fans who packed Vancouver’s Rogers Arena to cheer on the home team.
Luukkonen stopped 23 shots.
The elimination marks one of Team Canada’s worst showings ever in the World Junior tournament and is the first time the squad has failed to medal while playing on home soil.
Finland will now go on to play Switzerland in the semifinal. Earlier on Wednesday the Swiss shocked the hockey world by eliminating Sweden with a 2-0 finish in their quarterfinal match in Victoria.
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