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Finland win World Juniors title in Helsinki

Finland's Young Lions took gold in the World Junior Championships in Helsinki on Tuesday, beating Russia 4-3 to secure an overtime victory in a nail-biting final.

Kasperi Kapanen mestaruusmaali
Finland took on Russia in the final of the World Under-20 Ice Hockey Championship in Helsinki on Tuesday. Kasperi Kapanen #24 scored the game-winning goal. Image: Tomi Hänninen

Finland won the World Under-20 ice hockey championships in Helsinki on Tuesday with a gripping 4-3 victory over Russia.

The game got off to the worst possible start for Finland when Vladislav Kamenev scored after just 4:50 minutes. Russia held that lead all through the first and second periods, before Patrik Laine equalised on 40:24 to get the game going.

Finland were level for just a minute before Andrei Svetlakov scored an unassisted goal to put Russia back into the lead, before Sebastian Aho equalised on 50:07.

The drama continued as Mikko Rantanen scored on the power play with just two minutes left on the clock. Russia's disintegration seemed to be complete when captain Kamenev was given a 10+20 minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after lashing out in frustration in the penalty box, catching an official's hand, but there was another twist in the story.

With just 6.9 seconds left in the game, Svetlakov scored to push the game into overtime and cut short the jubilant celebrations in the arena. After a lengthy break the two teams came back out--and almost immediately, after just 1:43 of overtime, Kasperi Kapanen scored the game-winning goal.

Russia had inflicted Finland's only defeat of the tournament so far, a 6-4 loss on 28 December that had raised questions about this team's resilience, but the final answered those questions and showed how the Finnish team had grown through the tournament.

Finland have now won the World Juniors 4 times, with the previous victory coming in 2014. The tournament offers young players a unique stage to impress scouts ahead of NHL drafts, but has not traditionally been as popular among Finnish audiences as it is in North America.

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