Finland has won gold at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, with New York Islanders prospect Ville Pokka playing a key role on the blueline.
The victory is extra sweet for Finland, coming against -- and on the home soil of -- their Swedish arch rivals. Sweden was the favorite heading into the tournament and laid waste to most opponents, entering the final having outscored opponents 30-8 and defeating Finland 4-2 in the qualifying round.
But standout goalie Jusse Saros frustrated the Swedes in the gold medal game, making 35 saves. The Finns scored 10 minutes into overtime for a 3-2 win.
Pokka, drafted in the 2nd round in 2012 (34th overall), finished the WJC with a goal and three assists. Seen as the team's top defenseman on a pairing with Dallas Stars draft pick Esa Lindell, Pokka was +2 in the gold medal game and +7 for the tournament, his third.
Both in this tournament (against U-20 competition) and in his regular season with Karpat (against pros in Finland), Pokka's done nothing to dissuade optimism about his puck skills and decision-making. It's just a matter of time, and perhaps another season with Karpat, before the Isles find out whether the right-shooting defenseman can translate his skills against NHL competition.
Regardless, congratulations to the kid and his countrymen on a historic win:
"There is this just a pig's great!"
(As a bonus, that appears to translate Pokka's surname as "A Straight Face." Noted.)
Alright, one more poor robotic translation, which proves there will always be niche jobs for liberal arts/humanities majors:
"This was amazing. We were the best team as a whole, and all came out when the need came. Now I feel like an incredibly good." These were the third kisani and now has a gold medal around his neck. "It is this very nice pig! Now it is nice to have and we had an absolutely fantastic team," Pokka enthused.
In the other medal game, Russia defeated Canada 2-1 for bronze, keeping Canada without a medal in consecutive years for just the first time since the early '80s. Though that no doubt will be viewed as COUNTRY IN CRISIS in many circles, it's probably more a reflection of the country's favorite sport continuing to spread far and wide.