It was double delight for Finland on the opening day of the Euro Floorball Tour 2017 in Kirchberg, the U19 side seeing off Czechia U19 9:7 in an entertaining opening match, before the senior side- the reigning world champions at their level- saw off the Czechs 5:3 in the later game.
Finland’s senior team showed champions’ credentials with their box-play on numerous occasions during their match, successfully negotiating their tie despite losing three players to the sin-bin and facing a penalty shot in the final period. Yet, there appears to be much to look forward to in the future for Finnish Floorball judging on the earlier performance of Finland’s younger generation, as they put in a wonderful display of their own to ensure it was a great first day’s work for their country at Euro Floorball Tour 2017 in Kirchberg.
Finland U19 – Czech Republic U19 9-7
Markus Salmi was the star for the Finland U19 side as they clinched a thrilling opening match 9-7 against the U19 team of Czech Republic. The Czechs will be disappointed not to have built on their impressive start, Daniel Eremias opening the scoring as they raced into a two-goal lead, before two quick goals from Justus Kainulainen and the excellent Salmi saw the first period end 2-2. Joonatan Kovanen’s early goal in the second period for Finland sparked a flurry of goals, Czech substitute goalkeeper Ondrej Kolajta scoring an own goal as Finland finished the second third with an 8:6 lead.
It remained that way for most of the closing period, before Ondrej Sadlo’s speculative effort beat Finnish goalkeeper Nemo Sipila to leave the Czechs trailing by one goal with just four minutes remaining. The drama continued as Czech Republic lost Josef Juha to the penalty box, but with Finland found wanting in front of goal during his absence, goalkeeper Kolajta was replaced by Eremias upon Juha’s return to the ring, the Czechs looking to chase an unlikely leveller. But the crucial goal wouldn’t come, Sipila twice denying Juha before Finland killed the game on the counterattack, Joona Rantala finishing into an empty net to seal the victory.
There will be little recovery time for the Finns as they now look toward their clash with neighbours and arch-rivals Sweden on Friday 3 November at 11:00 CET, whilst the Czechs will look to find a winning formula against hosts Switzerland at 14:00 CET (Friday 3 November).
Finland – Czech Republic 5-3
The defending champions of the world didn’t have it all their own way against their Czech opponents, but stood strong in adversity with some excellent box-play defending, as well as seeing goalkeeper Joonas Kaltiainen thwart Matej Jendrisek’s penalty shot. Highlights can be found here.
The Scandinavians started well enough though, Joonas Pylsy and Jami Manninen putting the Finns in the driving seat with two early goals before retaliating strikes from Milan Tomasik and Tomas Sykora restored parity before the interval. Finland lost both Aaro Astala and Petri Hakonen to the sin-bin in the second period, but Jami Manninen popped up again with a huge short-hander to ensure his side carried a lead into the closing third.
The Czechs were in raptures when Martin Prazan fired them level at 3-3 six minutes after the restart, but the celebrations were quickly cut short; Matias Veikkola immediately restoring Finland’s lead, before Sami Johansson’s cool finish put the icing on the cake. The Czechs almost found a late route back into the game with a penalty award and with it, Finland’s third sin-bin of the match, but were left frustrated by Kaltiainen’s heroics.
Finland will now look ahead to a Scandinavian derby clash and a repeat of the 2016 IFF World Championship gold medal game with near neighbours Sweden on Friday 3 November at 17:00 CET, whilst the Czechs will be hoping to pick up their first win just three hours later (20:00 CET, Friday 3 November) against hosts Switzerland.