In 1998 the WJC was held in Helsinki and Hämeenlinna, Finland. It was the last time that Team Canada failed to make it at least as far as the semifinals, and in the final that year, Finland played Russia and beat them 2-1 in overtime on a goal scored by Niklas Hagman, a former Leaf who I hope you remember fondly.
Hagman, who just turned 36 last month, plays for Jokerit in the KHL, and their home arena is Hartwall in Helsinki, the site of today's gold medal game between Finland and Russia, the first since 1998. Jokerit is on the road, of course, but I hope he can watch the game.
Bronze Medal Game
Game time: 9:00 EST
First up is the bronze medal game where Sweden and Dmytro Timashov, who was stunning in the loss to Finland, goes up against the USA and Auston Matthews. It's very tough to come out after a hard loss and try to win the medal no one really wants, so it will be interesting to see if the USA is up for the challenge. Sweden has their home fans in attendance to spur them on and might have an easier time feeling the competitive fire.
The USA still has the best goalie in the tournament; the Swedish defence is stellar, mainly because they spend so much time in the offensive zone, and the top two scoring lines for Sweden are full of amazing talent.
Sweden's Alexander Nylander isn't just making a name for himself, he's chasing a scoring mark at the WJC set by a couple of guys with the same name. His father Michael has 14 points, his brother William has 11, and he's at 9. He might get another kick at the can next year, so both of those are beatable totals.
Gold Medal Game
Game time: 1:30 EST
Finland, fresh off of beating their western neighbour in the semifinal, face their eastern one for the gold. The crowd in Russia's semifinal was very pro-USA, but the Russians might have some fans in the crowd today. Expect Hartwall arena to be rocking nonstop.
The Finns have got this far on super-charged offence and very timely good goaltending from Kaapo Kähkönen. The Russians are just good all around. Expect it to be a battle.
Some Finnish reaction to their semifinal win, including Kasperi Kapanen.
Finnish players @kasperikapanen1, @KaspBjork and Mikko Rantanen after the 2-1 semi-final win vs. Sweden. @leijonat https://t.co/9H6yZRFDxF— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) January 4, 2016
And the Russians weigh in.
Russian players Radel @Fazleev29 & Maxim Lazarev after 2-1 semi-final win vs. USA. @fhr_ru @hockeyrussia_en https://t.co/S64MPoEJdC— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) January 4, 2016