World Cup 5th Place: (10) Finland Slips By (5) Sweden, 126-100
TORONTO, ON -- Sweden and Finland probably know each other better than any of the other teams playing at this World Cup, with their players having played multiple games against each other in a number of burgeoning inter-league rivalries across Scandinavia. They'd also played a warmup game in Helsinki as a fundraiser for their tournament travel, in which Sweden won by over 50 points. However, Finland led this game from the 10 minute mark and edged a very tight penalty-heavy encounter 126-100.
Sweden's Ankefar and Mad Malooney got the better of the opening exchanges, but two big Finnish powerjams let the Finns sneak into a 24-22 lead with a little under ten minutes gone. A Swedish powerjam followed when Udre was boxed on a major forearm let Ankefar retake Sweden's lead, but was limited to 7 points due to some strong Finnish blocking and a very quick lead call for Udre as she escaped from the box. The Finns tied it up in the very next jam before taking the lead in yet another powerjam, leaving the score at 34-29. Kata Strofi then took Finland to 45-29 as she finished off that powerjam.
A run of scrappy jams with penalties for both teams let the Finns stretch the lead to 31 points with 11 minutes to go as the packs stayed at 2:2 for some considerable amount of time. While both teams stayed mostly on the track for the remainder of the half the gap stayed between 20 and 30 points. Both jammers then traded penalties in the last three jams, which let Sweden cut the gap to 18 with the scores at 76-58 Finland at the half.
Sweden pulled it back to 80-73 in the first three minutes of the second half as penalties for both teams again began to bite -- but Kata Strofi stretched Finland's lead in the very next jam. A rare five-on-five jam with 20 minutes to go let Udre take the Finns to 98-73, ably assisted by some solid defence from Suvi Hokkari. With a little under 20 minutes to go, Finland seemed to switch to time-management mode, with their jammers repeatedly slowing up after getting lead and running defence, happy just to keep their 20-plus point lead intact.
Finland's lead hit 30 as the clock hit 15 before a 4-0 from Udre took the score to 112-78 as the Finns stayed in control of the jams and the clock. The Swedes started to pull things back with a disjointed 15-2 scoring run that moved the scoreboard to 115-93, but Sweden had a significant setback with about six minutes to play as captain and pack stalwart Swede Hurt fouled out. The Finns continued to run the clock at every opportunity, and KataStrofi and Udre took the last two lead jammer calls for Sweden and iced the game 126-100 to take fifth place in the inaugural World Cup.