Buzzing The Net

World junior championship: Headshot on Ville Pokka helps get Finland off the hook (VIDEO)

Buzzing The Net

Of all the plays Switzerland would like back after its costly shootout loss to Finland, it's the headshot heard 'round Helsinki that might loom large by the end of the world junior championship.

The Suomi surmounting a two-goal deficit to win 5-4 had more to it than Markus Granlund being generally awesome. With 8:11 left, Swiss forward Lukas Sieber elbowed Finland's Ville Pokka in the head after a whistle, when the New York Islanders prospect had slowed up due to play being stopped. Finland's Teuvo Teravainen tallied on the ensuing power play to resurrect Finland, whose eventual win took it from from being out of medal contention to still having a semifinal bye in play.

Now that's costly. It could also be controversial: you can just hear Canadian fans wondering how hard the IIHF would come down on a member of Team Canada for a dirty play. Sieber was not ejected even though he targeted Pokka's head and elbowed/checked him fter the whistle. Canadian hockey chauvinism does course through this country's often colourfully expressed discontent with IIHF officiating, but the baseline for officiating is to at least be consistent.

Pokka finished the game, which is great news for a Finnish squad which is already down a man after Miro Aaltonen's ankle injury. Still, it was a cheap shot whereas the Lipon play was more a case of aggression being carried out recklessly (having his left forearm in a bad position) but not maliciously.

Barring a suspension, Sieber will be eligible for the Switzerland-Czech Republic showdown on Monday. While Group A probably isn't on the radar as much as the Canada-Russia-U.S. pool, the four teams playing are all in medal contention. Sweden can win the group outright by beating Finland; the Czechs can still win the group. There is also a three-way tie scenario involving Finland beating Sweden and the Swiss dumping the Czechs, each in regulation time. The tightness of the group doesn't exactly lead one to think each game will end in 60 minutes, though.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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