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Canada beats host Finland 4-1 to reach semifinals at world hockey championship

Canada's Samuel Blais, second from left, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the quarterfinal match between Canada and Finland at the ice hockey world championship in Tampere, Finland, Thursday, May 25, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Pavel Golovkin

TAMPERE, Finland — Canada secured a semifinal berth at the world hockey championship and also avenged a memorable loss to host Finland on Thursday.

Jack Quinn, Samuel Blais, Michael Carcone and Tyler Toffoli scored as Canada posted a 4-1 victory at the Nokia Arena. Teemu Hartikainen scored late in the third period for Finland but Toffoli answered less than a minute later to ice the victory.

"We knew it was going to be a tight game," said Canada goalie Samuel Montembeault, who made 27 saves. "But that big third goal for us put the weight off our shoulders."

Carcone made it 3-0 at 2:54 of the third period after Quinn and Blais staked Canada to an early lead. 

Hartikainen finally gave the home crowd something to cheer about when he tallied with 3:07 left to play, but Toffoli scored an empty-netter with 2:18 remaining.

“This is a great group," Montembeault said. "Our goal coming into this tournament was to win a gold medal, and we knew we were going to have to work hard tonight to beat Finland in front of their fans.

"We are one step closer to our goal, and now we are looking forward to the semifinals.”

Emil Larmi made 27 saves for Finland.

“We tried to play with speed on the forecheck to disrupt the Finns’ timing," said Canadian head coach Andre Tourigny. "They are so strong on pucks, they are heavy and protect the puck well. 

"We wanted to be really aggressive when they had the puck and take possession away from them as quickly as possible."

Finland defeated Canada 4-3 in overtime to win gold last May. It was the third straight time that the two sides played for gold at this event.

Canada will next play Latvia, a surprise 3-1 winner over perennial contender Sweden. 

“We have been playing well defensively and blocking a lot of shots, and we need to keep that up," Blais said. "We have a great goalie that we have a ton of confidence in and we are going to bring our best game against Latvia.”

The United States will face Germany in Saturday's other semifinal. Medal games are scheduled for Sunday.

Finland beat Canada in 2019 but Canada won the rematch two years later. The 2020 tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2023. 

The Canadian Press

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