Antilla leads Finland to gold at 2019 ice hockey worlds

Marko Antilla’s two goals enable Finland to bounce back against Canada in the final and clinch gold at the 2019 Ice Hockey World Championship in Slovakia on Sunday.

A crowd of more than 9,000 fans in the Ondrej Nepela Arena in Bratislava watched Marko Antilla, the captain of two-time world champions, rally his team that was down by one after Canada’s Shea Theodore cut through the defenders 10 minutes into the game and scored on Kevin Lankinen’s glove side.

Finland, lacking true star-caliber players this year, could have opened the score in the sixth minute, but Oliwer Kaski did not capitalize on his short-handed penalty shot. Antilla was the one to tie the game early in the second with a shot from the right circle between the legs of Canada’s goaltender Matt Murray on a powerplay.

The 2.03m-tall Finnish giant put his team into the lead early in the third, scoring his second of the night after a great back pass from Veli Matti Savinainen, 2-1. It turned out to be the game-winning goal because Canada’s following scoring attempts got thwarted by the almost flawless Finland’s goalie. The 24-years-old Lankinen made 43 saves on the most important night of his career

Harry Pesonen stretched the lead to 3-1 with four minutes left, forcing Canada to pull their goalie and start their dreaded all-out attack. But Lady Luck was not on their side this evening and Lankinen either saved everything they threw at him or the puck bounced off his posts and crossbar into safety.

Canada’s silver medal marks their 50th top-three finish at the hockey worlds.

TFinland refreshed their great memories of Bratislava, having won gold here in 2011 when Slovakia was hosting their first World Championship in history.