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Finland goalie shuts out Swiss ; Flames prospect makes 15 saves

It was said and written before this IIHF World Junior Championship that for Finland to improve on last year's fifth-place finish, goalie Joni Ortio would have to be at his best.

He certainly was that Tuesday afternoon against Switzerland, stopping all 15 shots he faced in a 4-0 win. Finland showed no hangover from its 3-2 overtime loss to Team USA on Sunday, getting goals from four players.

"We knew after the OT loss to the USA we're a good team," said Ortio, a sixth-round pick of the Calgary Flames in 2009. "That proved to us how good we are."

The Finns proved that to the Swiss throughout, outshooting it, 38-15.

Finland took a 1-0 lead with 19 seconds left in the first period, when Joonas Nattinen tipped Toni Rajala's shot from the left point past Swiss goalie Benjamin Conz.

Jaako Turtiainen made it 2-0 for Finland with 15:23 left in the second period. Turtiainen pounced on a loose puck in the left circle and drove a high shot past Conz. The goal was set up by a pretty give-and-go between Jyrki Jokipakka and Joonas Donskoi, both of whom finished with two assists. Jokipakka fanned on his shot, but it bounced to a wide-open Turtiainen.

Switzerland missed its best chance to get back in the game when it failed to convert a five-on-three power play that lasted 70 seconds midway through the second period.

"That was the major point in this game," Finnish coach Lauri Marjamaki said. "It was great for us."

After killing off the first penalty, Finland's Iiro Pakarinen had a chance to extend the lead to 3-0, but was stopped on a short-handed breakaway. Conz did his best to keep his team in the game, stopping 23 of the 25 shots he saw in the first two periods.

He didn't have much of a chance on Finland's third goal, though. With Romain Loeffel in the box for slashing, the Finns converted on the power play. Sami Vatanen blasted home a one-timer after a perfect cross-ice pass from Erik Haula.

The scoring was completed just over 3 minutes later when Julius Junttila made a strong rush down the right side past Swiss defenseman Nicholas Steiner, then flipped the puck high over Conz's glove with 12:09 left in the game.

All that was left from that point was preserving the shutout for Ortio, who opened the tournament by making 27 saves against the Americans, but was beaten in overtime by Nick Bjugstad.

"It's always nice to get a shutout," Ortio said. "You've got to keep yourself prepared mentally throughout the game. Those games are quite hard for goalies, when you don't face a lot of shots, so you've got to be ready. It's a confidence boost for me."

Finland can be in no worse than second place with four points in Group A after Team USA plays Slovakia in a game that ended too late for this edition. Switzerland, which opened the tournament with a 4-3 win over Germany, has three points.

e-mail: jskurski@buffnews.com

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