International Ice Hockey Federation

Tuominen the heroine

Finns win despite two disallowed goals

Published 28.03.2015 23:08 GMT+1 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Tuominen the heroine
MALMO, SWEDEN - MARCH 28: Finland's Minttu Tuominen #15 looks for a pass with pressure from Russia's Alexandra Vafina #9 during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship. (Photo by Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Minttu Tuominen scored the only shootout goal as Finland defeated Russia 3-2 in the third game at the Malmo Isstadion on Saturday.

Tuominen snapped a perfect shot under the crossbar, sending the Finnish bench into throes of joy.

"I don’t feel like I’m the hero," said Tuominen, who capitalized on her second shootout attempt. "I just feel like I’m the player who got a second chance to score on a penalty shot. I feel like our goalie Meeri [Raisanen] did very well in the shootout, so I think she should be the hero."

Anna Kilponen and Rosa Lindstedt also tallied for Finland. Olga Sosina had a goal and an assist for Russia, and Valeria Pavlova added a single.

The Finns weren't so happy with having two goals called back in regulation time. But they didn't quibble with the final result.

"Obviously there were a couple more goals today," said captain Jenni Hiirikoski. "But I think we can do better. Still, it’s always fun to win."

This was a fast-skating yet tight-checking affair. Finland's Raisanen and Russian goalie Valeria Tarakanova didn't see a ton of rubber. Shots favoured Finland 20-15.

In Malmo, both sides are looking to rebound from a disappointing showing at the Sochi Olympics. There, both teams had high hopes of playing for bronze, but instead, the Finns settled for blanking the host Russians 4-0 in the fifth-place game.

In the early going, the Finns thought they’d opened the scoring on their first power play, but it was waved off due to a goal crease violation. Even with a subsequent two-man advantage, they couldn’t turn on the red light.

The Russians made it 1-0 at 3:31 of the second period due to a fine effort by Sosina. She fought through Finnish checking to fire a shot from the left circle, and Iya Gavrilova got a whack at the rebound before Pavlova put it in.

The Finns knotted the score one minute later, as Kilponen’s center point shot got past Tarakanova with traffic in front.

Sosina made it 2-1 Russia, unassisted at 14:25, thanks to her aggressive forechecking. She stripped defender Ronja Savolainen of the puck in the corner and cut to the front of the net, sliding it past Raisanen.

Another sweet individual effort helped Finland make it 2-2 with 2:31 left in the middle frame. Michelle Karvinen, who led the 2014 Olympics in scoring, found Lindstedt cruising into the Russian zone, and she deked her way into the right faceoff circle before lifting it home on the glove side.

Halfway through the third period, Russian captain Anna Shukina was shaken up in an accidental collision with Pavlova. Both women received medical attention on the bench and would return to action.

With 8:39 remaining, the Finns had yet another potential goal waved off for having a player in the crease. Neither team generated much in overtime before the shootout.

"We’ve been having a couple of weeks of camp to prepare for these games," said Tuominen. "So it’s all mental, I feel. We’re ready physically. Mentally, we need to start focusing on the next game."

At the last Worlds in Ottawa (2013), Russia, then managed by former NHL star Alexei Yashin, topped Finland 2-0 for bronze. Remarkably, Finland has played in all 15 bronze medal games in World Women’s history dating back to 1990.

Finland will lack top goalie Noora Raty for this tournament due to health reasons. After Sochi, Raty, regarded as one of the world’s elite netminders, decided to play men’s hockey in Finland this season to train at a higher level and make some more money. However, she told head coach Pasi Mustonen she’d return for the Worlds, and her absence now is a blow to the Lionesses’ hopes of returning to the podium for the first time since 2011’s bronze.

"We have three good goalies here," said Tuominen. "Meeri played really well today, especially in the penalty shots. I’m confident in her."

The road only gets tougher for both these Group A squads. Finland faces the Americans on Sunday, while Russia will battle Canada.

Asked to identify what Finland must do better against the U.S., Hiirikoski said: "Defensively, we have to be quicker with our first passes. Then we have to capitalize on our chances."