May 14, 2006

Finland shut out Norway to take over top spot

RIGA (Reuters) - Fredrik Norrena made 18 saves to earn the
shutout as Olympic silver medalists Finland blanked Norway 3-0
at the world ice hockey championship on Sunday.

The win allowed the Finns to take over first place in the
Group E standings with seven points, one clear of unbeaten
Canada who could reclaim top spot later on Sunday when they
take on defending champions the Czech Republic.

Finland, Canada, Czech Republic and the United States have
all secured quarter-final spots.

Following the U.S. victory over Latvia on Saturday, the
Norwegians entered the game against Finland knowing they had no
chance of advancing out of the qualifications round but they
still tested the Olympic runners-up.

The Finns scored once in each period, Jukka Hentunen, Jussi
Jokinen and Esa Pirnes all finding the net.

Having already clinched a spot in the final eight, the
Finns started Norrena in net ahead of Philadelphia Flyers
netminder Antero Niittymaki, who will no doubt get the call for
a key clash against Canada on Monday that is likely to decide
top spot in the Group E standings.

Niittymaki, who was named most valuable player at the
Olympic tournament after posting three shutouts, is also making
a bid for world championship MVP honors have registered
shutouts in two of his three starts.

Mathias Gundersen also turned in a sparkling effort in the
Norway net, facing 40 shots.