Granlunds get it done for Finland

Finland celebrates a goal against Slovakia during their World Junior Championship quarterfinal...

Finland celebrates a goal against Slovakia during their World Junior Championship quarterfinal match at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Jan. 2, 2012. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI Agency)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:15 PM ET

CALGARY - On this day, the Granlund brothers were double trouble.

Finland's dynamic duo was the difference in Monday's 8-5 quarterfinal victory over Slovakia at the world junior hockey championship, scoring three times -- two for Markus and one for Mikael -- in a five-minute span in the second period to turn a tight contest into a foregone conclusion.

Must be a special bond, right? The brothers aren't so sure.

"It's just normal. He's just one of the teammates, that's all," Mikael Granlund said with a shrug. "We're just teammates and linemates. It has nothing to do with because we are brothers. Maybe we think the same about the game, you know? But it doesn't have anything to do with us being brothers."

The Slovaks might disagree.

Mikael Granlund roofed a wrister to break a 2-2 tie about five minutes into the middle frame of Monday's quarterfinal clash, then assisted on two tallies by his younger brother -- including one highlight-reel cross-ice feed -- to give the Suomi a sizable advantage.

The Finns advance to face Sweden in Tuesday's semifinal, a battle between neighbouring nations with a storied on-ice rivalry.

Markus Granlund, the soft-spoken second-round selection of the Calgary Flames last summer, might have trouble topping his first meaningful outing in front of the Saddledome faithful.

"Of course, I feel good," he grinned afterward. "Two goals and we win? Of course, I am happy."

Joel Armia, Roope Hamalainen, Aleksander Barkov, Joonas Donskoi and Teemu Pulkkinen also scored for the Finns in Monday's triumph in front of an announced crowd of 14,558.

Slovakia's offence came courtesy of Matus Chovan, Marek Tvrdon, Richard Mraz, Martin Daloga and Marko Dano.

The Slovaks scored four times in the third period of their round-robin finale against Switzerland on New Year's Eve to stay in the medal hunt, but they couldn't erase an even larger deficit in Monday's quarterfinal.

Daloga scored five minutes into the third period to trim Finland's lead to 6-4, but Chovan was assessed a five-minute major for boarding near the midway point that spoiled any hopes of another improbable comeback.

The Finns scored twice on the powerplay to make sure of it.

"I think if there wouldn't be a penalty, I think we were slowly coming back," said Slovakian winger Tomas Jurco. "You never know, we might score four goals in four minutes like we did (against the Swiss). I feel like we played really good. It's hard to take, but we lost. That's how it is."

If the Finns don't address some defensive details before Tuesday's semifinal against Sweden, they'll be the ones trying to shake off the devastation of defeat.

They'll certainly need a better outing from netminder Sami Aittokallio, who surrendered five goals on 29 shots after giving up just one marker in three previous outings.

"This is a good victory for us, but we didn't play so good," Pulkkinen said. "We win the game. That's all that matters."

Next up for the Slovaks is Wednesday's fifth-place game.

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson


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