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The Globe and Mail

Canada beats Finland to salvage bronze medal at world juniors

Team Canada's goalie Mark Visentin posted a shutout in the squad's 4-0 bronze-medal win over Finland Thursday afternoon.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

A depleted Canadian team dug into its reserves to beat Finland 4-0 and capture the bronze medal at the world junior hockey championship Thursday.

Down three players due to injuries and a suspension, Canada extended the country's streak of winning a medal in the tournament to 14 consecutive years.

Goaltender Mark Visentin was the feel-good story of the game. He stopped a second-period penalty shot and made a no-look, around-the-back save early in the third. He finished with 27 saves for the shutout.

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Visentin was in Canada's goal in last year's final in Buffalo, N.Y., where Russia scored five third-period goals to win the gold medal.

Visentin had finished Canada's 6-5 semi-final loss to Russia on Tuesday because starter Scott Wedgewood was injured in the second. The Canadians trailed 6-1 early in the third in that game but a spirited comeback fell just short.

The short-staffed Canadians needed a big game from their goalie Thursday to get a medal and the Phoenix Coyotes prospect delivered. Visentin was named player of the game for Canada.

Quinton Howden scored two goals while Tanner Pearson and Mark Scheifele had the others before 18,595 spectators, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Finland's Sami Aittokallio stopped 40 shots.

Canada was down to 19 players for the game. Defenceman Scott Harrington did not play. He suffered an "upper-body" injury in a game against the U.S. on Saturday, but played in Tuesday's semi-final.

Forward Boone Jenner, the tournament leader in faceoffs won, was serving a one-game suspension for spearing Russian captain Evgeni Kuznetsov in the semi-final. Winger Devante Smith-Pelly broke his foot blocking a shot in the first game of the tournament.

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So it was a thin Canadian lineup heading into the contest. Still, Canada's players received a standing ovation when they took the ice at Scotiabank Saddledome, which was almost full despite it being an afternoon contest.

The Canadian team earned another ovation in the last minute of the game.

Canada had played in the tournament final every year for the previous decade and had won five gold in that span. The Canadians were playing for bronze for the first time since winning it in Russia in 2001.

Finland was coming off its own heart-breaking game, falling 3-2 in a shootout to Sweden in their semi-final after leading for almost three periods.

Russia and Sweden were to meet for the gold medal later Thursday.

Finland left Howden unchecked beside their net and the Moose Jaw Warrior finished a tic-tac-toe play from Mark Stone and Freddie Hamilton for Canada's fourth goal at 17:35 of the third.

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In a scramble around his crease early in the period, Visentin reached around his back to grab the puck out of the air. He later made a pad save on a blast from Roope Hamalainen.

Howden gave Canada a 3-0 lead, scoring a power-play goal with 31 seconds left in the second. He pounced on a rebound and backhanded the puck past Aittokallio.

With his team up 2-0 late in the second, Visentin gave Canada a lift when he stopped Teemu Pulkkinen on a penalty shot at 17:49. Officials gave Finland the free shot because they ruled Visentin threw his stick in a goal-mouth scramble.

Earlier, Finnish forward Otto Paajanen tripped Howden in front of the net and the Canadian knocked the helmet off of Aittokallio. The goaltender required attention from the team doctor but stayed in the game.

Pearson, who initially made the squad as the 13th forward, stepped up in the absence of Jenner and Smith-Pelly. The Barrie Colts forward forced a turnover behind Finland's goal-line and fed Scheifele out front to give Canada a 2-1 lead at 5:35.

Canada emerged from the opening period with a 1-0 lead, after outshooting the Finns 15-7 and scoring once on four power-play chances. Pearson tipped in a Mark Scheifele shot from the faceoff circle at 9:08.

The 2013 world junior hockey championship will be held in Ufa, Russia, and in Sweden the following year. The tournament returns to Canada for 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021.

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