January 5, 2012
Finns disappointed with fourth
By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
CALGARY - His English might not be considered fluent just yet, but Team Finland captain Mikael Granlund summed up his side's tournament perfectly.
"I'm satisfied how we played but I'm not satisfied," said the 19-year-old Minnesota Wild prospect in the minutes following a 4-0 loss to Team Canada in the bronze-medal game Thursday afternoon.
"We wanted to do something special and win something and we didn't."
The underdog Finns definitely were on the brink of it.
After an opening day loss to Canada in embarrassing fashion -- an 8-1 defeat on Boxing Day in Edmonton -- Finland ripped off wins over the U.S., Denmark, the Czech Republic and Slovakia before getting off to a 2-0 start in the semifinal over the Swedes.
Sweden tied things up in the third period won in a shootout to bump the Finns to the bronze game, but Finland proved it is a contender on the world junior stage despite the fact their string of years without a medal at the tournament was extended to seven.
"The semifinal was so close," Granlund said. "That was a big loss for us."
So was Thursday's clash against Canada -- although not nearly as close as the hosts peppered netminder Sami Aittokallio with 44 shots and shut down a dangerous Finnish offence led by Granlund.
"This is hockey. Everything is so close every time. You need to do everything right and as good as you can," Granlund said. "Today we just weren't good enough."
Aittokallio, who replaced fellow backstop Chris Gibson between the pipes following that first loss to Canada, put it more bluntly.
"I think they wanted it more than us," he offered. "I think Canada wanted this more. They were a lot stronger than us.
"I think that we were a bit tired for this game."
Emotionally, that oh-so-close loss to Sweden might have drained them a bit. Fellow Finn and future Wild teammate Mikko Koivu even called Granlund to offer his support after that contest.
"He just said it's just hockey," Granlund said of the call. "Sometimes something like that happens. You can't go to the final every time. He was just trying to cheer us up.
"Every guy thinks it was a big loss (against Sweden). I think we did all we could in that game and it wasn't enough," said Granlund.
"We tried to do everything for this game to get the bronze medal but we couldn't do that.
"The right team won this game and the bronze medal."
On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane