Finland clash with Switzerland in the second semi-final of the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships 2018-19 on Friday night at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, with a place in Friday’s final against either Russia or the USA for the winners.
Finland and Switzerland caused major upsets in reaching the last four, with Finland coming back from going a goal down to beat the defending champions and host nation Canada 2-1 in Overtime, while Switzerland beat last year’s finalists Sweden 2-0.
Finland came within just 46.4 seconds of going out of the tournament against Canada, but managed to take the game into overtime when Eeli Tolvanen’s centering pass hit Aleksi Heponiemi’s leg and then went in under the arm of Canadian goaltender Mikey DiPietro late into the third period.
The winning Finland goal came from Toni Utunen, who scored 5:17 into overtime when a broken Canadian stick in the Finland end gave the Finnish an odd-man rush, and Utunen hit a great shot into the top corner.
Switzerland had earlier overcome Sweden 2-0 at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria in the first of Wednesday’s quarter-finals.
With Sweden having played without five flu-afflicted skaters in their 4-1 win over Kazakhstan on New Year’s Eve, there always seemed to be a good chance for Switzerland to take advantage against a team that had been unable to prepare properly for the game.
The Swiss owed much to goaltender Luca Hollenstein, who was particularly impressive in shutting out the Swedes, but were good value for the win anyway.
Finland go into the game as the more fancied team in most online betting predictions, especially having eliminated the host nation, defending champions and pre-tournament favourites in the last round.
In reaching the semi-finals, the Swiss have equaled their best ever performance in these championships in 1998. Finland have won gold on four previous occasions – 1987, 1998, 2014 and 2016.
The Finns are our tip to win this game on the Money Line betting odds and book their place in Friday’s final against either Russia or the USA.
Pick: Money Line – Finland @ -417 (888sport)