Finland fight hard to sink Belarus 3:2 at 2015 IIHF WM


Finland fight hard to sink Belarus 3:2 at 2015 IIHF WM

Belarus went down against Finland in shootouts 2:3 at the 2015 IIHF World Championship in Group B. 

Finland - Belarus - 3:2 (0:0, 0:0, 2:2, 0:0, 1:0).
May 9. Ostrava. CEZ Arena

Shots: 26-25.
PIM: 8-6.

Belarusians’ task in the meeting with Finland was complex and simple at the same time: try to get points and consolidate their position in the top 4 of group B, which would mean playoffs.

The third period was the most fascinating and thrilling in the match. With 0-0 on the scoreboard, Dave Lewis' side opened the scoring. On 46 minutes, Andrei Stepanov skated along the board with the puck and made an accurate pass to Yevgeny Kovyrshin. The Belarussian striker did not hesitate to release a powerful shot beating the experienced Pekka Rinne.

In the middle of the third period, the Finns got the man advantage. However, soon it was Finland who were one man down - three Finns were playing against five Belarusians. Artur Gavrus had the best chance of the game in the 5-to-3 play. The forward shot into the empty net from the crease but Pekka Rinne somehow stretched out his hand and saved. 

After fighting back, the Finnish team, already in full strength, organized their own dangerous attack. Now it was Vitaly Koval's turn to show reflexes. 

However, a minute later, Joonas Donskoi equalized in the man advantage in the 52nd minute. Some 50 seconds later the Finns went ahead. Teemu Hartikainen was the first on the rebound when the puck somehow bounced off the board from behind Koval back to the crease. 

The thriller continued with Belarus having the sixth skater. Thirty seconds before the buzzer Belarus captain Alexei Kalyuzhny used Sergei Kostitsyn's pass to net a perfect shot that left no chance to Rinne.

The score 2:2 mean the game was sent into overtime. In the extra five minutes, there were no goals so the shootout began. In the shootout the Finns beat goalie Vitali Koval three times, while Belarus scored only once. 

However, in tomorrow's match against Norway, Belarus still needs to earn a point to make sure they qualify for the quarterfinals.

Belarus may get out of the group only from fourth place and, should this happen, they are to meet first-placed Canada from Group A in the quarterfinals. Canada are now on 18 points after 6 games. 

In case Belarus lose to Norway and Slovakia oust the USA, Belarus will be knocked out. In this case Slovakia and Belarus will both have 11 points but Slovakia has the upper hand in face-to-face matches. At the 2015 IIHF WM, Belarusians lost to Slovakia 1:2.

Judging by Belarus' performance and ranking points, it is likely that Belarus will host an Olympic qualifying tournament or even directly qualify for the next Olympic Games.