Last day of round robin of the 2019 Sirius Junior Club World Cup kicked off with a matchup between Austria and Finland. Top team of Pool B Kärpät faced Red Bull, who were looking for a win to secure a semifinal berth.
As expected, Oulu grabbed the momentum right in the beginning and locked Red Bull in their defensive end, peppering Mauritz Merra with shots. ‘Ermines’ converted on their initial powerplay opportunity of the game. One of Kärpät leaders Tuukka Tieksola let Marcel Zitz leave the penalty box early. Tieksola went for a cross-ice pass, it was blocked but the puck bounced back to him and the forward scored on a broken play. Soon Oulu doubled their lead – a beautiful passing play between Jesse Moilanen and Zdenek Sedlak led to 16-year-old Aaty Räty’s third of the tournament.
Red Bull created their first scoring chance only 13 minutes in as Aljaz Predan and Tim Harnisch took a shot each but Joel Blomqvist was up for the task. Finland almost scored a few more goals following a Salzburg’s bench minor for too many men on the ice. This time around Merra looked solid and didn’t let the opposition extend their lead. Kärpät spent last seconds of the period in the offensive zone as Kilian Zündel got a penalty. Just as the horn was about to sound, Ville Heikkila skated to the slot and smashed it home to give Oulu a 3-0 lead.
After such cold shower, Austria picked up the pace in the second period. However, Dennis Lobach put an end to it as he got another penalty. Luckily for him Finland didn’t create much on the ensuing powerplay. Red Bull couldn’t stay out of the penalty box and somehow managed to even get a penalty while being down 2-man. The puck stayed in play for a long time on a delayed penalty call and Kärpät scored their fourth past Merra – Zdenek Sedlak roofed it on his third attempt. Oulu also scored in the dying seconds of the period again – Aleksi Antti-Roiko improved the lead to 5-0.
Nothing changed in the third stanza. Red Bull still couldn’t pose much trouble for Blomqvist, while the ‘Ermines’ defended well and made the opposition pay for their penalties. Another powerplay led to another goal. This time Antti Myllyaho scored his first of the 2019 Junior Club World Cup to add to his earlier assist. Salzburg did eke out a goal – Pau Huber received a great long pass, broke away and beat Blomqvist 5-hole.
That was the only goal Kärpät allowed, while Red Bull continued to pile up penalties, which led to another powerplay goal – Zdenek Sedlak netted his second of the game. Arttu Hyry set the final score. With this 8-1 win Kärpät proceed to the medal round where they will face Team AJHL on Friday afternoon in the semifinal.
“We practiced a lot. We prepared for the tournament for a year. We played well today. We passed the puck a lot and scored a lot on a powerplay. It’s a great for us,” said Kärpät forward Zdenek Sedlak. “We were fast so our opponents didn’t have much of a choice – either allow a goal, or take a penalty. We’re going to play against a Canadian team in the semifinal. We haven’t discussed it yet but we have a day to rest and get ready. Tomorrow we’re going to take a look at Team AJHL games and practice well. ABBA song in our dressing-room is not our winning tradition. Actually, we have a win song but it’s more modern. By the way, when we score, they play Hands Up. The history of the song is this – it was our win song last season and we went on to win national championship title. So it’s a bit of a nice flashback.
“I’m Czech. When I was 13 years old, my agent managed to get me a shot at Kärpät. I would definitely go there but my mom didn’t let me. She insisted that I would graduate from elementary school in Czech Republic first. So I joined Kärpät only when I was 15. I don’t have Finnish citizenship but I would like to have it. I speak Finnish. I can easily talk to my teammates in Finnish. Although, if my teammate speaks good English, I prefer that.
“The game against Trinec was very important for me. The thing is that Trinec is not far from my home in Czech Republic and there are players on their team who play for the national team. But most importantly, we’re best friends with Marek Malik, who is the son of one of Trinec’s assistant coaches. We’ve known each other since we were 15 through national team. After the game I told Marek that his guys had to practice better because we beat them by a large margin. But that, of course, was a joke. As the matter of fact, I respect the work Ocelari have done.”
“Sometimes you have to take a penalty but today there wasn’t a single moment like that,” said Red Bull head-coach Teemu Levijoki. “We had an unbelievably bad discipline! Why? We have to ask the guys that. As for me, I think we played worse than we could. This blowout win is good for the boys. I hope it’s going to wake them up. Are we going to work on our penalty killing? I wouldn’t say that our penalty killing is horrible. For example, three weeks ago we had a few exhibition games and all of our opponents were like Kärpät but we didn’t have such great problems with the discipline. At the very least, two goals a period were unnecessary. Once again, when were taking penalties, Kärpät was scoring, while we didn’t do anything on our rare powerplay opportunities. We don’t have a lot of chances of making the playoffs but we’re not frustrated. It was a necessary practice for us and a great experience.”
2019 Sirius Junior Club World Cup
August 28th. Sochi, Russia. Shayba Ice Arena
Round robin. Group В
Red Bull (Austria) – Kärpät (Finland) – 1-8 (0-3, 0-2, 1-3)
0-1 – Tieksola (Vanttaja) – 05-15 PPG
0-2 – Aaty Räty (Sedlak, Moilanen) – 09-38
0-3 – Heikkila (Moilanen) – 19-59
0-4 – Sedlak (Tieksola, Puhakka) – 32-22 PPG
0-5 – Antti-Roiko (Myllyaho) – 39-58
0-6 – Myllyaho (Heikkila, Loponen) – 44-02 PPG
1-6 – Huber (Arrak) – 48-51
1-7 – Sedlak (Tieksola) – 56-45 PPG
1-8 – Hyry (Sedlak, Heikkila) – 58-08
Goaltenders: Merra – Blomqvist