Finland ended the Hlinka Gretzky Cup on a high note defeating Czechia to claim the bronze medal in a 3-1 win at the Peavey Mart Centrium.
Czechia made a push late in the third period for the equalizer Saturday afternoon, and even pulled their goalie, but Finland goaltender Eemil Vinni was a brick wall.
Standing six-feet two-inches tall Vinni made 21 saves including a lot of important stops and won player of the game for his country.
He told the Advocate winning the bronze medal feels great because they didn’t want to go back to Finland empty handed.
“I think the team helped me. It made me do my job a lot easier,” he said.
The 2024 NHL Draft prospect said his team played very well and Czechia didn’t get very many good chances because the Finland skaters took away their opportunities.
Finland opened the scoring in the first period with a beautiful goal scored by forward Aron Kiviharju as he skated down the right side and shot the puck into the top left corner over the blocker of Czechia goaltender Michael Hrabal.
Approximately four minutes later, Czechia evened it up 1-1 when forward Eduard Sale fired one into the back of the net.
Early in the second period Finland regained their lead when Arttu Alasiurua knocked in a loose puck moving through the crease.
As Czechia pushed to tie the game Vinni was locked in and made stops when they needed it most.
“I play every situation that the game is tied at zero so I don’t take the pressure of that,” Vinni added.
Finnish forward Jesse Kiiskinen scored the empty netter to secure the win. Czechia goaltender Hrabal made 22 saves in the loss.
Canada and Sweden will play in the gold medal game at 4 p.m. to decide the champion of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.