Both Young Lions teams lose World Champ opening games

Not the best start for the men or women in their quest for World Championship glory - with the tournaments taking place in neighbouring countries.

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Finnish goalie in action against Sweden at U20 World Championships, 26th December 2019 / Credit: IIHF

The Finnish men’s U20 team, and the women’s U18 both lost the opening games of their respective World Championship tournaments on Thursday.

The men are the defending champions in their tournament which takes place in the Czech Republic and lost 3-2 against Sweden after an overtime goal.

That shot came with just five seconds left on the clock with Sweden on a power play and goalie Justus Annunen unable to get a glove to a high shot from Swedish World Champ newcomer Alexandr Holtz.

“We were a little bit nervous […] that’s why our game was too much up and down” Finnish coach Raimo Helminen told reporters after the game.

“Some moments, we were pretty good, but other moments were not that good. We probably made too many easy mistakes. These guys are young and they try hard. That kind of thing happens” says Helminen, who played for Finland in six Olympics.

The Finnish U20 team have won gold at these World Championships in three of the last six years – 2014, 2016 and 2019.

Their next game is coming up on Friday against Slovakia, and they’ll also face Switzerland and Kazakhstan in the first round of the competition.

Finland vs USA at U18 Women’s World Championship, 26th December 2019 / Credit: IIHF

Women’s U18 team lose to USA 

There was defeat too for the women’s U18 team in the opening game of their World Championship tournament which is taking place in Slovakia.

The Americans dominated play to ease to a 4-1 victory over the Finnish side.

The sole Finnish goal of the game came off the stick of Kiira Yrjanen who teamed up with Sofia Nuutinen to beat American goalkeeper Skylar Vetter.

The Finnish team doesn’t have much time to sit around and think about the result as they’re already back in action on Friday, taking on another powerhouse team, Canada, later today.