Host Finland delighted the home crowd by earning the gold medal at the 2016 World Junior Championship with a 4-3 win over Russia on Tuesday. Kasperi Kapanen scored the game-winning goal just minutes into overtime of the championship game.
Jesse Puljujarvi was named the MVP of the tournament. The 17-year-old tied Eric Lindros for second-most points by an under-18 player in a WJC tournament with 17.
It's just the fourth gold medal for Finland and the third medal of any kind for the country in the past 10 years. Russia settled for silver for the 11th time in its history at the tournament and the second time in the past two years.
As expected, the pace between the tournament's top two teams was blistering. Finland weathered early penalty trouble when goalie Kaapo Kahkonen earned a delay of game penalty for firing the puck over the glass. Finland's seventh-ranked penalty kill went on the job with a tall task.
And Russia struck first. Captain Vladislav Kamenev scored his team-leading fifth goal off a pass from Ivan Provorov to give Russia a 1-0 lead. The shot was a rocket from the circle that fooled Kahkonen before he could get his glove up in time.
The second period saw momentum shift back to the home side. Two early penalties by Russian players Yevgeni Svechnikov and Damir Sharipzyanov gave Finland extended power play time. But Russia's second-ranked penalty kill kept Finland off the board. Even so, Russia went eight whole minutes without a shot as Finland dominated the pace of play.
Finland's top forwards, Puljujarvi and Patrik Laine, had not registered a point in two games heading into the final. They finally broke through in the opening minute of the third, as Laine took a pass from Sebastian Aho and fired it past Russian goalie Alexander Georgiev to tie the game at 1-1.
The tie didn't last. A minute later, Andrei Svetlakov forced a turnover at center ice and beat Kahkonen glove-side to restore the one-goal Russian lead.
Puljujarvi's line struck again for Finland midway through the period when a Russian defender fell and left Puljujarvi free to set up a tying goal from Aho.
Jesse Puljujarvi ties Lindros for second highest scoring WJC for a 17 year old with 17 points. Jagr's record is 18.— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) January 5, 2016
A late penalty to Dmitri Sergeyev led to a goal from captain Mikko Rantanen with 2:09 left to give Finland another lead, but Russia would tie the game off a deflection with just 6.9 seconds left in regulation.
But Finland would prevail. Kapanen scored on a wraparound attempt just 1:33 into overtime to clinch the championship for the host country. Earlier in the day, the United States earned the bronze medal at the tournament with an 8-3 victory over Sweden.