A slick-passing and quick-skating Finland ousted Canada from the world junior hockey championship with a 6-5 quarter-final victory.
And with the result, a holiday-season tradition of watching Canada play for a medal — usually gold — ended after 17 years in the medal round with the Canadians heading home unusually early.
Canada — the defending champions who’ll host the tournament next year in Toronto and Montreal — finished in sixth, its lowest placing since 1998 when the team finished seventh.
Maple Leafs prospect Mitch Marner did his best, scoring twice in an action-packed third period.
Canada also got goals from Travis Konecny, Dylan Strome and Lawson Crouse in what was the team’s best performance in the tournamemt.
But Canada was the author of its own demise, taking foolish penalties against the tournament’s best power play unit. Finland scored three times on the power play, twice in the third, including the game-winner by Patrik Laine at 14:10 of the third.
The crowd was electric throughout. Most of the 12,000-plus fans at Hartwall Arena were cowbell-ringing Finns. But Canada’s rabid travelling fans — perhpas 2,000 or so — kept up with the cheering Finns with their “Go Canada Go” chants equal to Finland’s “Su-o-mi.”
But the crowd was at its loudest when the final buzzer went.