Finland vs Denmark World Junior Exhiibition hockey at Langley Events Centre, Dec. 19, 2018. Gary Ahuja Langley Events Centre photo

Finns savage Danes in World Juniors hockey preview in Langley

The exhibition game saw the Finnish team, packed with NHL prospects, dominate start to finish.

Anton Lundell scored twice while six other players had a goal apiece as Finland defeated Denmark 7-0 on Wednesday night at Langley Events Centre, as part of the Lordco Auto Parts Road to the World Juniors series.

The exhibition series features a dozen games in nine different venues ahead of the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship. It runs December 26 to January 5 at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena and Victoria’s Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

The players did not make their coaching staff’s job of picking players any easier.

“The players are making the last decisions very hard,” commented Finnish coach Jussi Ahokas, following the game. “I thought all four lines played well and we played as a five-man unit. Our guys were committed to playing our game and we were able to control the game.”

Finland dominated in all aspects of the game, holding their Danish opponent to a mere nine shots on goal the entire game. That included just two shots over the final 40 minutes.

Finland led 3-0 after one period as Anton Lundell scored twice and Rasmus Kupari – a Los Angeles Kings first round pick – added a third.

Sami Moilanen and Santeri Virtanen (Winnipeg Jets, fourth round) tallied in the middle stanza and Jesse Ylonen (Montreal Canadiens, second round) and Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida Panthers, second round) struck in the final frame.

Finland wraps up their exhibition schedule with a game against Canada Dec. 23 at Rogers Arena while Denmark faces Sweden on Dec. 22 at Chilliwack’s Prospera Centre.

“We want to be efficient like this and keep growing from here,” Ahokas said.

Filip Lindberg and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen – a second round pick off the Buffalo Sabres – split the goaltending duties for Finland while Mads Sogaard went the distance for Denmark, finishing with 33 saves.

Following the game, the teams played three-on-three overtime and Denmark had a glorious chance in the first minute, but David Madsen’s shot rang off the cross bar.

Kupari struck late in the overtime period when he used a great burst of speed at the opposing blue-line to get around his man and then beat Sogaard with a shot off the post and in.

The teams also conducted a five-round shootout and after both teams were blanked in the first three rounds, Ylonen and Lundell struck for Finland while Denmark was stopped on their fourth attempt.

Langley Events Centre will host one more exhibition game on Saturday, Dec. 22 with the United States – featuring the Vancouver Canucks first round pick in 2018, Quinn Hughes, as well as his younger brother Jack, the expected first overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft – against the Czech Republic.

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