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2024 World Juniors Semifinal #2: USA beats Finland on late power-play goal


As the United States and Finland too to the ice for the second semifinal of the World Juniors, the Finns needed to establish early that they were capable of matching USA’s pace. They couldn’t have asked for a better start when a giveaway from U.S. defenceman Sam Rinzel led to a shot off the post, and Oiva Keskinen was the first on the puck to make it a 1-0 game.

After weathering several waves of pressure, the Finns started to get more involved in the match, and with just over seven minutes to play, they earned a second goal. A tip of a shot in the slot by Rasmus Kumpulainen found Trey Augustine’s five-hole and made it a 2-0 game.

As the period came to a close, Team USA had a few shifts in the offensive zone, but they had clearly been shocked by how the opening frame had gone, seeing an early 7-2 shot advantage end up at just 9-8 in the favour.

The U.S. recovered from their surprise at Finland’s opening period with another good flurry to begin the second. They expected the Finns to try to defend their lead, and came out with the first five shots on goal. Some nice saves by Niklas Kokko, and a few other misses on good opportunities, kept the U.S. off the board through the first TV timeout.

Rather than simply sit back and hope to survive an onslaught, the Finns ramped up the physicality, providing the United States with another distraction as they attempted to get on the scoreboard. Finland was learning that if it could get through the first minutes of a period.

Team USA did earn a power play from holding the majority of possession, as Finland was called for tripping. Jimmy Snuggerud made it count with a powerful one-time slapshot from the top of the circle that glanced off the crossbar on its way into the net to get his team within one goal.

Not long afterward, it was a tie game. The Finnish coverage broke down, leaving Will Smith all alone to the right of Finland’s net. Gabe Perreault found him with a pass for an easy goal.

The Finns and Americans traded zone time in the third period, as the game entered its final break, it was still tied at two goals apiece, with overtime seeming more and more likely.

Things turned in USA’s favour with five minutes to play when Kasper Kulonummi was called for light contact on a turning Frank Nazar. With seconds remaining in the kill, Cutter Gauthier put the Americans ahead, with just over three minutes to play out to claim the win.

Finland was given its chance to answer 40 seconds later with a power play of its own. They had chances, but couldn’t solve Augustine a third time.

Team USA advanced to Friday’s Gold Medal Game, while the Finns will settle for a game for bronze earlier in the day.

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